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Pharmacy faculty conduct online medications chat

In an age when your e-mail inbox fills up with subject lines such as “Order medications without seeing a doctor,” expert advice on medications commands a higher premium than ever.

That’s why dozens of people logged on to ask questions recently of Brian Gates and Linda Garrelts Maclean, assistant clinical professors of pharmacotherapy at WSU Spokane. Gates and Maclean took part in a moderated online chat with Spokesman-Review newspaper health care writer Carla Johnson.

Both are award-winning pharmacists: Maclean was named the Most Influential Woman Pharmacist in 1997 by Pharmacy Times, and Gates was named Distinguished Young Pharmacist of the Year at the 2003 Tri-State Pharmacy Convention. Their range of expertise, from geriatrics to herbal and alternative medicines, came in handy as they fielded questions from the general to the specific.

Some of the questions revealed a deeper story. One can only speculate about what lies behind the question about the consequences of giving a 2-year-old a 10-year-old’s prescribed Ritalin.

The questioner added, “I would like to give the individual involved scientific information on the danger of this action. Thanks. Please, reply to my e-mail if not printed on the website. I wish to remain anonymous if the answer is published. Sincerely, a concerned grandmother.”

Terrible twos aside, Maclean noted in her response that it is difficult to diagnose attention deficit in a child this young, and that it is never appropriate to give medication to anyone other than the person for whom it was prescribed.

Other questions addressed rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, chemotherapy, weight loss in people in nursing homes taking a specific medication and red yeast rice as an alternative to the statin class of medications for treatment of high cholesterol.

A few other questions and answers included:

Q: What’s the difference between generics and brand name drugs?
A: Generics are manufactured once the original manufacturer’s patent runs out, and are equal in quality and efficacy C buy them whenever you can.

Q: I can’t afford my medications. What can I do?
A: See http://www.rxassist.org for information on assistance that may be available from pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Q: Where can I find reliable information about drug interactions?
A:See http://www.drugdigest.org/DD/Home.

You can access the whole chat by going to http://www.spokesmanreview.com/drugchat

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