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- How well do you know about the drugs you are taking?
- 1. How does the drug work?
- 2. Why did my doctor prescribe this drug?
- 4. What are the possible side effects of the drug?
- 5. Should you use a generic version of the drug?
- 6. What should you expect the drug to do?
- 7. How should the drug be taken?
- 8. What should you do if you miss a dose?
- 9. What foods and substances interact with the drug?
- 10. How should I dispose of any unused drugs?
- 11. Who manufacturers the drug?
How well do you know about the drugs you are taking?
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. Moreover, 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. When used properly, most drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration do more good than harm. Make a list of your questions about the medications you are taking and discuss tany concerns with your doctor.
1. 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.
2. Why did my doctor prescribe this drug?
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.
4. What are the possible side effects of the drug?
Since drugs provide a benefit by modifying processes in the body, it is not surprising that they also have side effects. Successful drug therapy produces the desired beneficial effect without unbearable side effects. Therefore, it is important to know what a drug's side effects are so that they can be recognized, prevented, and acted upon appropriately when they occur.
5. Should you use a generic version of the drug?
Generic drugs work like the brand name drugs, but they are cheaper. Purchasing a generic instead of the brand name drug can often reduce the cost of therapy while providing the same benefit.
6. What should you expect the drug to do?
Some drugs cure the condition for which they are prescribed while other drugs provide only relief from symptoms. Some drugs provide an immediate benefit while other drugs require more time to be effective. To determine whether the drug is working as intended, it is important to know the expected result and how long it will take to see that result.
7. 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.
8. What should you do if you miss a dose?
Despite the best of efforts, eventually everyone misses one or more doses of a medication. The remedy for this situation depends on the drug. For some drugs, simply taking the missed dose as soon as possible is appropriate. For other drugs, it is more appropriate to wait and double the next scheduled dose. (However, this can be dangerous with some drugs.) Since the recommendations differ for each drug, knowing the correct remedy can prevent therapy from failing and side effects from occurring.
9. What foods and substances interact with the drug?
Interactions with drugs are common and they can cause side effects or reduce the beneficial effect of the drug. Sometimes, the interaction may promote a beneficial effect. Knowing which interacting agents to avoid while taking a drug (for example, food, and herbal drugs) will prevent failure of therapy and side effects. It is a good idea to let your pharmacist and all health-care professionals know the drugs you are taking so potential drug interactions can be avoided. Also, ask about alternative treatments and how effective they are.
10. How should I dispose of any unused drugs?
To safe guard the health of children, pets, and the environment; and to reduce drug abuse; drugs should be disposed of responsibly.
The FDA recommends the following for safe disposal of unused or expired medications:
- Follow specific recommendations for disposal instructions on the drug label or patient information packet provided with the medication.
- Do not flush drugs down the sink or toilet unless the packet information on the drug specifically instructs to do so.
- Check to see if your community has a drug take-back program that allows the public to bring unused drugs to a specific location for disposal.
- If you do not have access to a disposal program in your area to dispose of unused drugs it is recommended you throw the drugs in the garbage after taking the following steps:
- Remove the drugs from their original container and mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter (this makes the drugs less appealing to pets, children, and people who intentionally dig through trash seeking drugs).
- Place the mixture in a sealable container, can, or bag to prevent leakage.
- Remove all identifying information on the prescription labels so they are unreadable. This helps protect your identify and personal health information.
- Do not give prescription medications to friends or family members. A medication that is effective for you, may be dangerous for someone else.
- Ask your health-care professional or pharmacist if you have any questions about proper disposal of unused or expired medicaitons.
- Disposal of prescription drug disposal methods can be applied to over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
- Inquire about any special instructions for disposing the unused or expired medications you have taken.
Important information about your drugs should be reviewed prior to taking any prescription drug. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precauctions, dosage, what the drug is used for, what to do if you miss a dose, how the drug is to be stored, and generic vs. brand names.
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Related Disease Conditions
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
- Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
- Beta Blockers (Drug Class, List of Brand and Generic Names)
- prednisone (Prednisone Intensol, Rayos) Corticosteroid
- metronidazole (Flagyl, Flagyl ER) Antibiotic
- acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Ext, Little Fevers Children's Fever/Pain)
- hydroxyzine (Vistaril)
- Tramadol: for Pain (Ultram, Ultram ER, Conzip)
- pantoprazole (Protonix)
- gabapentin (Neurontin)
- furosemide (Lasix)
- alprazolam (Xanax, Xanax XR, Niravam) Anti-Anxiety Drug
- cephalexin (Keflex)
- Aldactone (spironolactone)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Anxiolytics (for Anxiety) Drug Class Side Effects
- Cipro, Cipro XR (ciprofloxacin) Antibiotic Side Effects
- amoxicillin (Amoxil, Moxatag, Larotid)
- Levaquin (levofloxacin) Antibiotic
- losartan (Cozaar)
- clonazepam (Klonopin)
- naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn)
- ipratropium bromide inhaler (Atrovent)
- nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Furadantin, Macrobid)
- trazodone (Desyrel - discontinued brand)
- lorazepam (Ativan)
- ibuprofen (Advil, Children's Advil/Motrin, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare Fever, and others)
- digoxin (Lanoxin, Lanoxin Pediatric)
- cefdinir (Omnicef has been discontinued)
- Aspirin vs. Plavix (clopidogrel)
- meloxicam (Mobic) Side Effects
- bupropion (Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL, Zyban, Aplenzin, Fortivo XL, Zyban)
- celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Cox-2 Inhibitors
- codeine (for Pain)
- citalopram, Celexa
- amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)
- Viagra (sildenafil)
- Diflucan (fluconazole)
- levothyroxine sodium (Synthroid, Levoxyl)
- Oxycodone vs. Tramadol for Pain
- temazepam (Restoril)
- diphenhydramine, Benadryl
- metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
- venlafaxine, Effexor XR (Effexor has been discontinued in the US)
- Lipitor (atorvastatin)
- Carafate (sucralfate)
- benzonatate (Tessalon Perles)
- mirtazapine (Remeron, Soltab)
- diazepam (Valium, Diastat, Acudial, Diastat Pediatric, Diazepam Intensol)
- omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid)
- baclofen (Gablofen, Lioresal)
- amlodipine (Norvasc)
- montelukast, Singulair
- diphenoxylate and atropine (Lomotil)
- rituximab (Rituxan)
- haloperidol (Haldol)
- carvedilol (Coreg)
- metformin (Glucophage, Glucophage XR, Glumetza, Fortamet, Riomet)
- Valtrex (valacyclovir)
- simethicone, Phazyme, Mi-Acid, Gas Relief, Mytab Gas, Gas-X, Gas-X Extra Strength
- lisinopril (Zestril, Prinivil, Qbrelis) ACE Inhibitor
- Tramadol (Ultram) Side Effects
- phentermine (Adipex-P)
- alteplase (TPA, Activase, Cathflo Activase)
- lansoprazole (Heartburn Relief 24 Hour, Heartburn Treatment 24 Hour, Prevacid 24)
- dicyclomine, Bentyl
- mupirocin (Bactroban, Centany)
- isosorbide mononitrate, Imdur, Ismo, Monoket
- buspirone (Buspar)
- tretinoin (Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Atralin, Renova, Avita)
- azithromycin (Zithromax, Zithromax Z-Pak, Zithromax Tri-Pak, Zmax)
- clopidogrel (Plavix)
- Flomax (tamsulosin)
- hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin, Norco)
- betamethasone dipropionate, Diprolene; Diprolene AF
- clonidine (Catapres, Catapres-TTS)
- captopril (Capoten)
- Oxycodone for Pain (OxyContin, Roxicodone, Oxecta, Oxaydo, Xtampza ER, Roxybond)
- cefixime (Suprax)
- erythromycin (Ery-Tab, PCE)
- cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril, Amrix, Fexmid)
- sumatriptan, Imitrex, Alsuma, Imitrex STATdose System, Sumavel DosePro
- misoprostol, Cytotec
- amiodarone, Cordarone, Nextrone, Pacerone
- hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide, Hydrodiuril)
- warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)
- triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide
- Actos (pioglitazone)
- Zocor (simvastatin)
- fluvoxamine (Luvox)
- clozapine (Clozaril, Fazacio ODT, Versacloz)
- mesalamine (Pentasa, Rowasa, SfRowasa, Lialda, Canasa, Apriso, Delzicol)
- fluticasone (Flonase, Flonase Allergy Relief)
- nifedipine (Procardia, Adalat, Afeditab)
- colestipol (Colestid)
- metoclopramide, Reglan, Metozolv ODT, (Reglan ODT, Octamide, and Maxolon
- chlorthalidone (Thalitone)
- Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen, Roxicet, Tylox, Oxycet)
- Amaryl (glimepiride)
- bisoprolol, Zebeta
- budesonide (oral inhalation, Pulmicort, Pulmicort Flexhaler)
- loperamide (Imodium)
- oseltamivir (Tamiflu)
- glipizide, Glipizide XL, Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL
- risedronate (Actonel, Atelvia)
- orlistat (Xenical, Alli)
- fexofenadine (Allegra, Mucinex Allergy)
- felodipine (Plendil)
- tamoxifen (Soltamox, Nolvadex)
- pentoxifylline, Trental, Pentoxil
- diltiazem (Cardizem, Cardizem CD, Cardizem LA, Tiazac, Cartia XT, Diltzac, Dilt-CD, and several oth)
- benazepril (Lotensin HTC)
- lithium, Lithobid
- gemfibrozil, Lopid
- loratadine, Claritin, Claritin RediTabs, Alavert, Claritin Hives Relief, Children's Claritin
- zolpidem (Ambien)
- flurbiprofen (Ansaid)
- repaglinide, Prandin
- nortriptyline, Pamelor, Aventyl - has been discontinued in the U.S.
- sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)
- timolol ophthalmic solution (Timoptic, Timoptic-XE, Timoptic in Ocudose)
- Lotrisone (clotrimazole and betamethasone topical cream and lotion)
- Evista (raloxifene)
- fentanyl patch (Duragesic)
- cefprozil, Cefzil
- prednisolone (Orapred, Pediapred)
- Lotrel (amlodipine and benazepril)
- nadolol (Corgard)
- promethazine and codeine, Phenergan with Codeine
- carisoprodol (Soma)
- triazolam (Halcion)
- estradiol, Alora, Climara, Delestrogen, Depo-Estradiol, Divigel, Elestrin, Estrace, and Others
- carbamazepine, Tegretol, Tegretol XR , Equetro, Carbatrol, Epitol, Teril
- Herceptin (trastuzumab)
- albuterol (Accuneb, Ventolin & Proventil [all discontinued])
- beclomethasone dipropionate inhaler (Qvar)
- hydrocortisone valerate
- isotretinoin (Accutane, Claravis, Amnesteem, Absorica, Zenatane)
- loratadine and pseudoephedrine (Alavert Allergy & Sinus, Claritin-D, Claritin-D 24 hour)
- terconazole, Terazol, Zazole
- isosorbide dinitrate (Isordil Titradose)
- oxaprozin, Daypro
- minoxidil (Rogaine)
- cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)
- imipramine (Tofranil)
- Sectral (acebutolol)
- desipramine, Norpramin
- Primsol (trimethoprim)
- tacrolimus (Prograf, Astagraf XL, Envarsus XR)
- penicillin V, (Veetids and Pen-Vee-K have been discontinued)
- propafenone (Rythmol)
- medroxyprogesterone, Provera, Depo-Provera, Depo-Sub Q Provera 104
- fenoprofen, Nalfon
- nefazodone, Serzone
- budesonide nasal inhaler (Rhinocort Allergy, Rhinocort Aqua)
- quinidine (Discontinued Brands: Cardioquine, Cin-Quin, Duraquin, Quinidex, Quinora, Quinact)
- atenolol and chlorthalidone, Tenoretic
- chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride and clidinium bromide (Librax)
- Didronel (etidronate)
- pramoxine (Itch-X, PrameGel, Orax, Sarna Sensitive, and Others)
- chlorpheniramine and hydrocodone, Tussionex, TussiCaps, Tussionex Pennkinetic, Vituz
- zanamivir, Relenza
- salsalate, Amigesic, Salflex, Argesic-SA, Marthritic, Salsitab, Artha-G
- zafirlukast (Accolate)
- estropipate, Ogen
- timolol (Blocadren and Timolide 10-25 have been discontinued)
- chlorpropamide, Diabinese
- bitolterol mesylate, Tornalate
- procainamide, Pronestyl; Procan-SR; Procanbid (These brands no longer are available in the U.S.)
- choline magnesium salicylate, Trilisate
- meclofenamate; Meclomen
- Combivir (lamivudine and zidovudine)
- Retrovir (zidovudine, ZDV, formerly called AZT)
- bepridil (Vascor, Bepadin - Discontinued)
- rimantadine, Flumadine
- lamivudine (3tc) (Epivir; Epivir HBV)
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- Senators Grill Drug Company CEOs on High Drug Prices
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- Even Older Drugs Are Getting Steep Price Hikes, Study Finds
- Most Americans Lie to Their Doctors
- Are Generics as Good as Brand-Name Drugs?
- What Kids -- and Parents -- Fear Most at the Doctor's Office
- Trump to Sign Bills Lifting Drug Price 'Gag Orders' on Pharmacists
- The Physician Assistant Will See You Now
- More Americans Are Recording Their Doctor Visits
- Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop Reaches Settlement in False Ad Lawsuit
- FDA Recalls Some Valsartan Drugs Due to Impurity
- American Seniors Facing Higher Out-of-Pocket Costs for Brand-Name Drugs
- Could Nonprofit Drug Companies Cut Sky-High Prices?
- Generic Drugs Don't Always Push Prices Down
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- FDA Warns Heart Patients About Antibiotic Clarithromycin
- New Research Debunks Two Medical Marijuana Myths
- Xanax, Valium Looking Like America's Next Drug Crisis
- Leading U.S. Doctors' Group Takes Aim at Rising Drug Prices
- Americans Fed Up With Soaring Drug Prices: HealthDay/Harris Poll
- Personalized 'Pills' From a 3D Printer?
- FDA Issues Warning About Skin Lighteners
- U.S. Prices Soaring for Some Generic Drugs, Experts Say
- Faster Drug Approvals Linked to Increased Safety Issues
- Study: Wikipedia Drug Entries Not Always Up-to-Date
- Health Tip: Safely Dispose of Medications
- Pharmacy 'Robots' Linked to Bacterial Contamination of Drugs
Drugs and Treatment Resources
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
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.
Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Disposal Fact Sheets.
FDA. How to Dispose of Unused Medicines.