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How our pharmacists support patients fasting for Ramadan

March 17, 2023 |3 minute read time

CVS Health pharmacist packing up prescriptions

Ramadan is a Muslim religious observance that takes place over a 30-day period each year. Observers refrain from consuming food, drinks and/or oral medication between dawn and dusk. CVS Health pharmacists can help guide medication adherence, before, during and following Ramadan.

Each year during the Islamic lunar year, many Muslim observers of Ramadan fast from dawn to dusk for 29 to 30 days. Fasting can impact individual health and disease management based on a variety of religious, personal or health reasons. CVS Health® pharmacists are equipped with the knowledge to support patients during this celebration.

“One of the most important things for practicing Muslims to do prior to fasting is start a conversation with their pharmacist,” says Mariya Farooqi, a pharmacist at a CVS Pharmacy® in Dallas, TX, and faith-based organizer within her mosque and Muslim community. “In my experience, patients may have questions and aren’t sure who to turn to. Our message to patients is we are here, and we can work with you during this time.”

Taking the time to learn more about fasting and medication management today is an important step to plan for the annual celebration.

What happens to your body during a fast?

When a person fasts, the body uses up its glucose and glycogen — two basic energy sources for the body — and begins using other energy sources stored in fat to keep the body, including brain cells, working at full capacity1. In addition to shifting how your body gets energy, fasting can also impact your sleep and activity patterns. Fasting during the day and eating only in the evening can lead to changes in sleep schedules and socializing. These changes, in addition to fasting, can impact the body’s natural sleep rhythms and release of hormones2. It’s also important to understand that fasting can have an impact on your physical and mental health.

How your pharmacist can help during Ramadan fasting

In addition to consulting with a prescriber or spiritual leader to prepare for a fast, pharmacists are a great resource for support. Pharmacists at CVS Pharmacy, CVS Specialty® and CVS Caremark® can work with patients to manage medications according to a patient’s fasting needs. They can advise on potential effects of discontinuing therapy, counsel patients about medication scheduling and provide tips to help patients keep up with changes to therapy schedules.

“Our goal is to provide patients with personalized care, whether it’s for their health condition, or in this case due to a religious observance,” said Siddharth Tenneti, Vice President, Pharmacy Growth and Omnichannel Patient Care Programs, CVS Pharmacy. “We’re working to offer culturally competent pharmacy care for all of our patients, building upon the trusted relationship our pharmacists have developed locally within their communities for years.”

What medications are allowed during fasting?3

Non-oral medications such as injections, inhalers and suppositories are usually allowed but people may choose to observe Ramadan fasting in their own way. Patients may also choose to avoid over-the-counter medications during a fast, after consulting with their healthcare provider. In these cases, patients can consult prescribers or religious leaders on using certain medications like nasal sprays and eye drops

Consulting with your pharmacist and health care team can help guide medication adherence, before, during and following Ramadan.