When it comes to using medicine, there is no such thing
as completely safe. All medicines have risks. The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) approval of a drug means that the benefits outweigh
the known risks that are outlined on the drug's label.
Physicians, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists
and YOU make up your health care team. To reduce the risks related to
using medicines and to get the maximum benefit, you need to play an active
role on the team.
Before you purchase a prescription or over-the-counter
medicine, learn and understand as much about it as you can, including:
generic and brand names
warnings and precautions
interactions--with food, dietary supplements, other
side effects/adverse reactions
Drug information designed for the consumer is available
from a variety of sources, your pharmacy, the manufacturer, the library,
the bookstore, and the Internet. If there is something you don't
understand, ask your health care team.
After you have exchanged all the information, weigh all
your options. At this point you must decide if the benefits you hope to
achieve from the medicine outweigh its known risks. The final choice is
Pay attention to how you feel and notify your health
care team of any problems.
If you have doubts that the medicine is working
effectively, don't stop taking it without checking with the team. Some
medications take longer to show a benefit, and some need to be withdrawn
gradually to decrease undesirable effects. If you experience a side
effect, let your health care team know immediately. An adjustment in the
dosage or a change in medication may be needed.