Drugs: What You Should Know About Your Drugs

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Introduction

Whether synthetic or natural (herbal), drugs are intended to act on the body. There always is a chance that they will produce effects that we do not want. Also, if two or more drugs are taken at the same time, there is a chance that one drug will interact with another drug in either a positive or negative way. This does not imply that the drugs are bad, but rather that they should be used carefully in order to reap the greatest benefit while minimizing unwanted side effects. Indeed, when used properly, most drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration do more good than harm. Below are ten questions that apply to most drugs and are worth discussing with your healthcare provider. Most of these issues are addressed by the information that is provided with the drug.

What is the drug used for?

Drugs often have more than one use. Understanding why a drug is prescribed improves your knowledge about the drug and the condition for which it is prescribed. This promotes compliance with treatment. It is a good idea to write down why each drug was prescribed to share this information with other health-care professionals or caregivers.

How does the drug work?

Knowing how the drug works provides the rationale for its use in the treatment of a particular disease. This also promotes adherence to treatment.

How should the drug be taken?

The optimal dose and timing of ingestion of a drug is determined by scientific studies. Drugs provide their greatest benefit when they are taken as prescribed. Deviating from the prescribed dose often leads to failure of the therapy or to side effects. However, in some circumstances (for example, when severe side effects occur), changes in dose may be appropriate, but they should be discussed with a health-care professional as soon as possible.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/10/2014

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You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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