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For Medicines To Work, Patients Must Follow Instructions

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DUNN — If you have ever received a prescription telling you to take acertain number of pills each day for a certain number of days only to havepills left over, you are not doing yourself any favors.

Medication can be the last thing on your mind when you feel fine, but there is a reason your doctor prescribed it: Medicine cannot help you unless you take it.

The reasons people do not follow their prescription range from being forgetful to misunderstanding the directions.

"People just do not take their medicationscorrectly. They do not take time to listen tothe pharmacist, they do not take time to ask thequestions and they don't take time to read theirown labels," says Al Lockamy, formerNorth Carolina Boardof Pharmacypresident.

Lockamy looks for ways to helppeople take the correct dose of medicine. He says non-compliance is a"very serious problem."

Paige Houston, of Thompson Drug in Dunn,talks with her patients about their new medicationsand why the drugs are important to their treatment.

"You just have to reassure them that thisis what the doctor wants -- heart medications, bloodpressure medications -- that this will preventthem from having a heart attack or stroke and howimportant it is to take it every single day," she says.

Here are some easy ways to follow doctors orders:

  • Get the prescription filled as soon as possible.The longer you put it off, the less likely youwill do it.
  • Take the medication at the same time every dayas part of your routine.
  • Do not hesitate to ask your pharmacist questions about how totake the medications or the side effects.
  • "We are a telephone call away. A lot oftimes when [patients] can't pick up the phone andcall the doctor themselves, they can call the pharmacyand almost always get the pharmacist on the line," says Houston.

    There are also a number of gadgets available that will remind youto take your medication:

  • Reminder services send a message over yourpager when you are supposed to take pills.
  • Beeping watches can be set to tell you the type ofmedication to take at a certain time.
  • Smart caps indicate to users how many times a bottle has been openedeach day and how many hours since it was opened.
  • Health Team Producer:Andrea MoodyPhotographer:Ken Bodine

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