Discuss prescription medications with your doctor. Ask if you really need a particular prescription or whether an alternative diet or exercise regimen could provide the same results. Ask about side effects, and how a new drug will interact with other prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines you are taking.
Ask your doctor if a generic drug or over-the-counter medication is appropriate for your condition. They’re less expensive. Generic drugs are as safe and effective as their brand-name equivalents at a fraction of the cost.
You can also ask your pharmacist if there is a generic version available for the prescribed brand-name drug.
Request samples when trying a new medication. You’re wasting money and medicine if you can’t tolerate a new medication and must stop taking it after only a few doses. And remember, ask your doctor for a generic version if the prescription is to be filled.
Periodically ask your doctor to review all the medications you take to help you determine which ones are necessary and which ones may not be.
Discuss with your doctor any problems, such as allergic reactions or side effects, you’ve had with medications.
Avoid overuse of antibiotics. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 50 percent of all antibiotics prescribed nationwide are unnecessary. Antibiotics do not help viral infections. Viruses commonly cause colds, bronchitis, sore throats, flu and sinusitis. Using antibiotics when you don’t need them can build up an immunity that will make them ineffective when you do need to take one.
Have one pharmacy fill all your prescriptions. This will keep your drug profile updated, and your pharmacist can track drug interactions. Over-the-counter products also can cause interactions, so check with your pharmacist before using them if you regularly take a prescription drug.
Store drugs in a cool, dry, safe place to help them last longer and to prevent accidental use.
Follow all the directions your doctor and pharmacist give you for taking your medication, including:
Understand how much of the medicine you should take, and when and for how long.
Take all the medication in a prescription if you’re instructed to do so.
Carefully follow any restrictions regarding food, beverages or other drugs.
Don’t combine different drugs in one container. Drugs can react with one another, making them ineffective.
Check the label each time you take your medication to verify the drug and the dosage you’re about to take.
Don’t take another person’s prescription medicine, even if your symptoms are similar.