Dear Dr. Roach: I had a very frustrating experience getting a prescription filled. This happens often, though I consistently follow the instructions of my pharmacy and doctor. Last time, I had to call the doctor on two consecutive days after the pharmacy’s faxes failed to get a response.

I would like to know your thoughts on this problem.


Dear N.H.: I understand your frustration. People who take multiple medications often end up in the pharmacy several days per month (if not per week) getting medications. And if the physician doesn’t have the prescription ready so the pharmacist can fill it, it is frustrating.

The best advice I can give is to ask the doctor for a three-month supply. Almost all medications can be filled that way, and most insurance companies will allow this. This can be done through your local pharmacy or through a mail-order pharmacy, depending on the insurance and your preferences.

Dear Dr. Roach: In your column on osteopenia, you recommend dairy products. Besides leaching out more calcium than is used, dairy is not a “healthy food,” according to the Department of Agriculture.


Dear Dr. Roach: Calcium needs vitamin D and magnesium to be absorbed by the bone. If you don’t have these co-factors, the calcium will settle somewhere in your body, just not your bones. A human body can absorb only about 500 mg of calcium at one time. If a person tries to take the full recommended dose all at once (1,200 mg to 1,500 mg), some of that calcium is not going to be absorbed.


Dear D.B.: The hypothesis that protein leaches calcium from bones recently has been proven untrue. Animal protein increases calcium absorption, so dairy products increase net calcium uptake. The question of whether dairy reduces fracture risk in people with osteoporosis is not completely settled. A diet high in dairy calcium and vitamin D did increase bone density in several studies.

Dairy products certainly are not perfect foods. All milk has sugar, and whole milk and most cheeses have relatively high amounts of fat, so it is wise to limit intake. Dairy products are a good source of calcium, but there are other good dietary sources, such as dark-green, leafy vegetables. I recommend diet rather than calcium supplements due to concerns about cardiovascular health, as well as the known increase in kidney stone risk.

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