Picking up a new prescription medication? Don’t just pay and walk away – be a smart health-care consumer and avoid risks by asking your pharmacist a few questions:
- Why am I taking this medication? Be clear on the condition for which the medication is prescribed, especially if you’re taking multiple medications for different conditions.
- Is there a way to treat this condition without drugs? While following your doctor’s recommendation is always best, finding out about alternatives can be a good idea.
- What’s in this medication? Find out the medication’s brand name and the name of its generic equivalent. As you know, substituting a generic for a brand-name medication can save you money.
- How and when should I take this medication? Should it be taken in the morning? At night? With food, or on an empty stomach? Many medications include specific instructions about how and when, with the goal of making those medications as easy on the patient as possible while remaining effective.
- How should the medication be stored? Is a safe location in your medicine cabinet appropriate, or does the medication require special handling, such as refrigeration? What should you do if you’re traveling and without a refrigerator? It’s best to seek those answers from your pharmacist at the get-go.
- What are the side effects, and could any be life-threatening? Pharmacists have good information about how medications can react with others medications and vitamin supplements you may be taking.
- When should I throw out this medication? When does it expire?
Knowledge is power. This knowledge gives you additional power in controlling your health.