The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

what is the best for_______? “Best” and “cheap” may not be the same.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:41 pm on Sunday, July 3, 2011

Pharmacy Chick answers tons of questions each day. They usually run in 1 of 2 varieties:  WHERE is ( or do you carry) X?  and What is the best ( or recommend) for X.   I dont mind answering questions about my area expertise, but  I have to admit I get really sick of having people ask me where crap is all over the store.  I must have some sign that only customers can see that says “information booth” on it, because if I ever find it, I will rip it from the wall and burn it to ashes.  Tonight, for example I had people ask me for :  cool whip,  the fruit juice section,  bottled water,  shoelaces,  motor oil and bug spray.  If I ever get the privilege of signing my own paycheck I will surely tell all of them what I think of their requests.

But that is not my daily whine today.

If you come to my pharmacy and ask me ” What is Best for X?  I am going to tell you.  And if I take the time to tell you, I expect that you will grant me the courtesy of believing me and accepting my response.  I am not going to lie to you.  You asked for the “BEST” and I gave it to you.  If you wanted CHEAP, then ask me for cheap.   Occasionally the BEST is CHEAP, but not always.   Your eyes are all pink and itchy from allergies and I recommended Alaway/Zaditor.  Its the BEST.  I also recommended Allegra.  Both will give you fantastic symptom control, once daily dosing and no sedation.  Did you buy it?  Hell, no.  What you wanted was “CHEAP”. Heck, even generic Claritin wasn’t as cheap as you wanted it to be, and frankly isn’t that great of an antihistamine anyway.

You walked away with a box of generic Benadryl.  Enjoy your nap, sweetheart.

Sadly this scenario isn’t all that unusual.  If I went to a car lot and asked for the BEST car, its likely I wouldn’t be shown a 1980 Yugo.   If I asked for CHEAP, I may have been shown the Yugo. Sure,  the Yugo will get me from point A to B ( most of the time) but its not the most effective, reliable, or attractive form of transport.  

Everybody asks me for the BEST.  They ask for my recommendations.  I will always recommend what I would use.  I feel its my obligation.

Don’t ask me what I will recommend unless you really want my answer, and don’t look at me sideways when I wonder why you question my answer..


Comment by Mallory

July 4, 2011 @ 2:33 am

By ‘best’, they don’t mean ‘most effective’. They mean ‘most cost effective’. I have to disagree with you with this one Mallory. If they want cheap they should ask for cheap. if they say “best” they are implying they want something EFFECTIVE and want their symptoms GONE

Price always factors into peoples decisions. If you aren’t giving them recommendations that fit their budgets, then they have to try and figure it out for themselves. I bet Benadryl doesn’t say on the box ‘not very effective and will make you tired’. correct and thats why they ask me so why diss me when I tell them the truth?

Maybe you should be saying “X or Y is the best treatment for Z, but if you’re on a tight budget, then A is the most effective low-cost option. It isn’t as good as X, but it will give you some relief.”I did but he didn’t much like the “not as good part”. there was no pleasing him…

Comment by The Redheaded Pharmacist

July 4, 2011 @ 4:56 am

I always try to show patients the most cost effective therapy choices at work including our store brand equivalent of a name brand product when available. People want to feel better but everyone is on a budget and finances are still really tight for a lot of people. And showing someone a product that will help them but at the same time is something they can’t afford doesn’t do them any good. Sometimes though customers have to bite the bullet and buy the product that will be the most effective even if it is the most expensive choice. Buying something cheaper that won’t work isn’t very cost effective. I try to educate customers and then let them make an informed decision on their own about which OTC products to buy. That seeems to work out the best in the end.

Comment by Jaden

July 4, 2011 @ 6:15 am

I never tell patients what the ‘best’ is; I let them make up their own minds by offering the options. (That way I’m never wrong, nor offended if I tell them that there isn’t really a cure for the common cold.) However, it is a shade irritating when the customer asks the tech or the clerk what is the best and they are told what is the best! (Or, when the tech yells over to me, “Hey, this customer wants to know what to take for such and such.”Perhaps my ommisons have caused some confusion here. If you all think that I am implying that I only recommend expensive items, you are incorrect. I am all for store brands, and recommend them freely, and I will frequently offer options. what I am specifically trying to make a point about is the constant barage of questions I get when people SAY they want the BEST for X…then diss me in the process when I tell them. What I failed to make mention of, is this guy specifically held me hostage on a busy friday constantly bugging me about allergy stuff. to hear him talk he had the worst allergies in the history of mankind and “had tried everything”. What do you think I am going to do? show him the stuff he already tried? Here is some of the questions/answers/AFTER he dissed the allegra… “Benadryl is FAST but it will make you drowsy..” oh, I dont wanna be sleepy, I have to work. “Claritin has a generic but its rather weak” Ive already tried that….

Comment by Liz

July 4, 2011 @ 7:26 am

I totally feel your pain, PC. This especially kills me when people are looking for something for a pregnant woman or a child and they refuse to get “the best.”

Comment by Amy

July 4, 2011 @ 9:06 am

I blame “Aunt Mary Sue” for part of this too! You know she really does know best! I love it when I get a question like what will help my X, and I ask them if they have tried anything. 8 times out of 10 they say no, then proceed to tell me they have taken my recommendation before and it didn’t work. Better yet is “Aunt Mary Sue”…you know that mysterious other person who always seems to know better. “Well Aunt Mary Sue says that Tylenol Cold and Sinus is the best so where is that?” It is especially fun after I have found the perfect combo for their symptoms (which Tylenol C&S doesn’t have all). I had a lady one time tell me that she wanted something for a cough. Then, she proceeded to tell me that Delsym, Mucinex DM, Robitussin DM and Nyquil didn’t work. I told her that the only thing I could tell her was to visit the Doctor or she could try the “Father John’s” syrup. You know, she bought it…even after I told her it was really nasty.

Comment by another pharmacist

July 4, 2011 @ 11:04 am

If you think this is irritating, I have had patients ask me if they should take an OTC recommended by an neighbor. I review their prescription profile and advise them that they should not take it because it will interact with their other meds or may cause them harm. Then they ignore my advice and proceed to a front of the store check out to buy it. Why ask if you are going to ignore me?

Comment by JS

July 4, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

As a patient, if I am going to take the time to ask the pharmacist what she recommends for condition A based on what I am alredy taking, than that is what I am going to purchase. If I trust my pharmacist enough to fill my scripts than I am going to trust her enough to suggest what is BEST for SAID CONDITION. If people (I am not saying this is the case with ALL people), would put away “the smokes,” alcohol, ice cream and other stuff in exchange for the medication that would make them feel better maybe this wouldn’t be as much of an issue for the RPH’s who already have enough to do.

And I know this is a little to late and in the wrong place but while I am at it I thought I would comment on your post about security and such at pharmacies. I would rather talk to my pharmacist through a “privacy window,” or a phone (with sanitizer for the patients to use if they wish—-no different than taking a shopping cart without using a bleach wipe that the stores provide), or opening a public bathroom door without using a paper towel (the number of people who don’t wash their hands after using the washroom is SICK), or taking a mint from a public bowl after a meal, in an effort to keep the pharmacy staff safe is fine with me, a patient. That’s me though!

Hope this makes sense, PC!

Comment by The Ole' Apothecary

July 5, 2011 @ 4:53 am

Google the lyrics for that 1980s song “I Want A New Drug,” by Huey Lewis and the News. Therein lies my 15-year experience with patient recommendation requests.

Comment by JenRPh

July 5, 2011 @ 8:51 am

My favorite is when they bring a product to me and ask if it will work for their symptoms. I used to take the time to pick the best product but found that they always bought the product they originally asked me about. Now I just screen for any interactions or health conditions and then tell them their choice is great.

Comment by Jon

July 5, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

Maybe the bug spray and motor oil can be made into some kind of best, most effective, or cheap enema. A multi-viscosity might be more effective. Seriously, if I am asking for advice I am likely to take it.

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