- What is the drug used for?
- How does the drug work?
- How should the drug be taken?
- What should you do if you miss a dose?
- What are the drug's side effects?
- What substances interact with the drug?
- What should you expect the drug to do?
- How should the drug be stored?
- How should unused drugs be disposed of?
- Should you use a generic version of the drug?
- What laboratory tests should be done to monitor the effects of the drug?
- Who is the drug manufacturer?
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.
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
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.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.