Ask the Pharmacist

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Steve Kaufman, RPH is the Supervising Pharmacist at Manhattan Plaza Pharmacy, 619 Ninth Avenue, at 44th Street. Mr. Kaufman and the pharmacists at Manhattan Plaza Pharmacy are in a unique position to discuss psychiatric medications as many of New York City's largest mental health agencies and community-based residential programs are in the neighborhood they serve.

Have a question for our pharmacist? Mail it to: NYC Voices, Box 2618 Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163 , or e-mail it to

January/February 1998
"In the treatment of patients with schizophrenia, selecting the most appropriate, effective and tolerable medication is the key to success ...  In the past doctors have accepted the shortcomings associated with standard treatments (partial response and side effects). Now new agents are changing the expectation of drug therapy."

March/April 1998
"Some 10% of all hospital admissions are related to inappropriate prescription or over-the-counter medicine use. Among patients 65 years and older this percentage more than doubles, and it is estimated that these types of improper drug use result in more than 125,000 deaths each year."

October 1998
"With Medicaid and other insurance companies trying to force everyone into managed care companies, it is a good idea to discuss the differences in the many types of insurance policies available."

November/December 1998
"Many of us have experienced or know someone who has experienced going to the pharmacy to pick up their prescription only to be told that their insurance company has rejected the claim."

March/April 1999
"My roommate's psychiatrist prescribes 6 mg daily of an antipsychotic for her to take. She takes 2 mg instead each day, and she's really doing better. She tells me she's afraid to tell the doctor. What should we do?"

May/June 1999
"I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Unlike other friends of mine with schizophrenia, manic-depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, ... my psychiatrist says there is no specific medication to help manage my illness. Is this true?"

July/August 1999
"The use of St. John's Wort has increased dramatically in both Europe and the U.S. More than 60 million daily doses of the herb are prescribed by German physicians -- eight times more often than standard drugs"

September/October 1999
"Kava kava has long been used in the South Pacific ... It is reported to have a calming effect ... The German Commission E monographs list kava kava among herbs approved in Europe to relieve nervous anxiety, stress and restlessness."

January/February 2000
"It showed an elderly man, bald head and hair growing out of his ears. He was not dirty but quite disheveled and wearing a pharmacist badge."

March/April 2000
"I was recently put on Zyprexa and Cogentin and I'm having difficulty focusing my eyes ... can these medicines cause blindness?"

May/June 2000
"My doctor said my child has attention deficit disorder (ADD). He wants to put my child on Ritalin. What do you think?"

July/August 2000
"I am a schizophrenic and have AIDS. I take so many pills to manage both these illnesses. Am I alone?"

September/October 2000
"In this month's article I want to talk about the high cost of prescription drugs and the problems it has caused many of our senior citizens."

November/December 2000
"Then the election came along, and I wished Ken Steele could observe what was going on. I think he would enjoy it."

January/February/March 2000
"The problem with over-medication is not the medication. It's the patient's understanding of the medicines they are taking."

June/August 2002
"When you fill a prescription, ask your doctor or pharmacist if the medication can cause a photosensitivity reaction."

January/March 2003
"In this month's article, I will discuss every man's favorite medication, Viagra. I will also answer the question, 'Does psychiatric medication cause impotence (inability to achieve erection).?'"

Summer 2005
"Prescription Benefit Manager (PBM) companies force many people to use mail order for many of their insurance plans."

Spring 2006
"Medicare Part D is for prescription drug coverage available to all people with Medicare. We are now more than a month into the new Medicare Part D program and there seems to be more confusion now then ever."

You can get the free "Directory of Prescription Drug Patient Assistance Programs" with all the necessary contact/eligibility information needed to qualify for prescription assistance by writing to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, 1100 15th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005

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