Drug questions - should I ask GP or pharmacist?
December 5, 2013 1:38 PM   Subscribe

I just started seeing a rheumatologist for my ankylosing spondylitis. She suggested a long term NSAID rather than just taking ibuprofen as I had been doing. She prescribed two options: diclofenac, which I tried, and Indomethacin, which I have not yet tried. I have questions about the new drug before I start it but my rheumatologist won't be able to respond for about a month. Should I see my family doctor or a pharmacist with questions about the new meds? Are either likely to be really familiar with a random medication?
posted by Naib to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
 
Should I see my family doctor or a pharmacist with questions about the new meds? Are either likely to be really familiar with a random medication?

Asking one doesn't preclude asking the other. It wouldn't hurt to get both opinions!

That said, your Pharmacist will know more about the medication itself and its side affects, most likely. Knowing about drugs is a ginormous part of their jobs.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:43 PM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I would guess it would be much easier in a you-can-just-drop-in way to see the pharmacist. I would expect either to be able to answer your questions.
posted by PMdixon at 1:49 PM on December 5, 2013


Pharmacists know more.
posted by discopolo at 1:51 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


That said, your Pharmacist will know more about the medication itself and its side affects, most likely. Knowing about drugs is a ginormous part of their jobs.

And it's a huge part of their extensive training and education!
posted by discopolo at 1:52 PM on December 5, 2013


A pharmacist is much more likely to know about a specialized drug than a GP. That said, depending on your questions, they may not be able to answer and may suggest that you ask your doctor.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:56 PM on December 5, 2013


I am surprised your rheumatologist started you on a drug like indomethacin and won't respond to you for a month. That seems extremely unprofessional. That drug can cause you all sorts of nasty side effects! It gave me an ulcer, which my family doctor discovered through periodic blood tests he insisted on while I took it. Then I had to see a G/I doctor who confirmed it all. I ended up changing neurologists and got on a better medicine for me.

I would not see a doctor who won't get back to you right after putting you on a harsh drug like that. Can you find a new rheumatologist?

In the meantime, get in touch with your pharmacist. You might try a few different pharmacies before you find a pharmacist who is helpful, but virtually all are, and they will have the best information on this medicine. If you are in the US, I've always found that Target's pharmacists are helpful. Call before or after morning and evening rush hours.

Your family doctor might be able to answer your questions in general about Indocin but I wouldn't expect even excellent ones to know a lot about dosing for this drug.

I am not a doctor, I am a random internet person talking about a drug.
posted by vincele at 2:01 PM on December 5, 2013


Do you mean that you can't get an appointment with your rheumatologist for a month? If you have a question about a new drug you can almost certainly call and leave a message for the doctor with her staff, and then receive a call back from her or a nurse/PA. If she is personally unavailable to even answer a question for an entire month, there should be another rheumatologist, or several rheumatologists, on call to answer questions and provide urgent support for her patients. Again, call the office and ask.
posted by telegraph at 2:10 PM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Even if your pharmacist doesn't know about a particular drug off the top of their head, they have access to reference materials (usually databases) that can answer lots of questions about the drugs.
posted by grouse at 2:37 PM on December 5, 2013


telegraph is right -- even if your rheumatologist can't see you in person for a month, she should absolutely be able to respond to your questions over the phone. If she is out of town or for some other reason cannot respond by phone, then there should be a backup rheumatologist who can respond to your concerns in a timely manner.
posted by merejane at 3:08 PM on December 5, 2013


You've gotten good answers, but I just wanted to add that in the medical world, these are not highly specialized/rare drugs. Although many lay people may not have heard of them, and they aren't super common, they are just NSAIDs that are not available over the counter. So, just agreeing that you can either call to your rheumatologist or speak with a pharmacist and it should not be a problem getting the answers to your questions.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:30 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know anything about the first one. But I was on Indomethacin for a while, and I was told that I should only take it for a couple of days, then wait 2 weeks before taking it again. And always take it with food. It's a very strong NSAID and can cause a lot of stomach issues if not taken correctly.

That said, IANAD or pharmacist. I agree that you should cover your bases and ask both. Your doctor's office should be able to answer your questions about the meds even if your doctor is unavailable - either a nurse, or another doctor who's covering your doc's patients. There's no reason in the world you should have to wait a month to hear back on a question like this. And your pharmacist should be available almost any time for a consultation.
posted by kythuen at 6:37 AM on December 6, 2013


I am married to a pharmacist and know a bunch of them. Ask a pharmacist. They will be far more knowledgeable about the drugs and able to answer any of your questions than any doctor will be. It's their job (and most of them love being asked)!
posted by geeky at 12:45 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


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