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When It Comes to Prescription Drugs, Get Smart
Date:11/5/2008

to have that information."

To help keep track of medications, Zive also recommends choosing one pharmacy for all your prescriptions and getting to know the pharmacists there.

"Let's say you're visiting different doctors and they're prescribing you medications separately that could cause an interaction," Zive said. "If you're using one pharmacist, they'll be able to see those potential interactions and other problems, even if you are seeing different doctors."

The National Council on Patient Information and Education recommends bringing a list of questions to be answered by your doctor and pharmacist for each prescription. The questions include:

  • What is the name of the medicine and what is it for? Is this the brand name or the generic name?
  • Is a generic version of this medicine available?
  • How and when do I take it, and for how long?
  • What foods, drinks, other medicines, dietary supplements, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
  • When should I expect the medicine to begin to work, and how will I know if it is working? Are there any tests required with this medicine?
  • Are there any side effects, what are they, and what do I do if they occur?
  • Will this medicine work safely with the other prescription and non-prescription medicines or dietary and herbal supplements I am taking?
  • Do I need to get a refill? When?
  • How should I store this medicine?
  • Is there any written information available about the medicine?

Patients should be ready to jot down the answers for all these questions, Bullman said.

They also should consider writing down the specific nature of their medical complaint before seeing a doctor, as well as any other questions they might have.

"It really is a crib sheet for when you go in," Bullman said. "It helps the consumer frame the particular medi
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