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Getting Medication Information from Your Doctor / Pharmacist

Before you leave your doctor’s office or pharmacy with a new prescription, make sure you fully understand how to take the drug correctly. Your pharmacist can also provide valuable information about how to take your medicines and how to cope with side effects. Ask the following questions:

  • What is the name of this drug, and what is it designed to do?
  • Is this the generic or brand name for the drug?

  • How does the medicine work in my body?
  • How can I expect to feel once I start taking this medicine?
  • How will I know that the medicine is working? Is there a typical time period after which my symptoms should improve?
  • How long will I have to take the medicine? Will I need a refill when I finish this prescription?
  • Will this medicine interact with other medications-prescription and nonprescription-that I am taking now?
  • Are there any activities I should avoid while taking this medicine?
  • Is there any special techniques or devices for administering the medication?
  • What is the dosing schedule and how do I take it?  If I need to take it three times a day. Does that mean to take it at breakfast, lunch and dinner or take it every 8 hours?
  • Should I take this medicine on an empty stomach or with food?
  • Is it safe to drink alcohol with this drug?
  • Are there any foods, beverages, alcohol, caffeine, and even cigarettes , or other medicines I should avoid? (Grapefruit, for example, may interfere with the action of certain medications.)
  • What are the potential  interactions with  other prescription  medications, dietary supplements, herbal products, food  and  beverages.?
  • Can this medicine be chewed, crushed, dissolved, or mixed with other medicines? Certain medications if crushed may have their effectiveness reduced.
  • Should  I  stop taking medications  before surgery? Are certain medications (including  herbal products)  interfere with  anesthesia or blood  clotting?
  • Is it safe to become pregnant or to breastfeed while taking this medication?
  • Does this medication contain anything that can cause an allergic reaction?
  • What  is the dosing schedule during fasting  month  and  how do I take it?
  • Does this new prescription mean I should stop taking any other medicines I’m taking now?
  • How long will I be on this drug?
  • What should I do if I forget a dose this medicine, or take too much?
  • Do I need to take it all or should I stop when I feel better?
  • Restrictions on activities while taking the medicine, such as driving a car or operating other motor vehicles.
  • What  should I do  if  I  experience  any  allergies?
  • What side effects should I expect? What should I do if I experience these side effects?
    • How to minimize the side effects. How soon they will go away.
    • When to seek help if there are problems.
    • How long to wait before reporting no change in your symptoms.
  • How should I store this drug?
  • The expiration date.
  • What is the cost of the medicine prescribed?
  • Ask if there  is  any  written information about the medicine that I can take home with me?
  • Does the pharmacy provide special services such as home delivery or comprehensive medication review and counseling?

Here are some points to cover each time a new medication is prescribed.

  • Ask about the risks and benefits of each medicine.
  • Ask how often you or your doctor will have to check your medicine’s effects.
  • For example, checking your blood pressure if you are taking a medicine to lower it, or having a laboratory test done to make sure the levels of medicine in your blood are not too high or too low.

  • Tell your doctor about all the medicines you are already taking.
  • This includes prescription medicines and the medicines you buy without a prescription, such as aspirin, laxatives, vitamin supplements, and home remedies. Then your doctor can avoid giving you a new medicine that may not work well with one you already take. It is helpful and useful to keep a written list of all the medications you are currently taking—prescription and non-prescription—including the dose and instructions for use.

  • Tell  your  doctor if you are not  taking your medicine as directed.
  • For example, some may stop taking their medicine, take a lower dose or skip doses if they are having  side effects that the doctor needs to know about  any  changes in  your  treatment  plan. Do  not let  guilty  feelings  embarrassment  keep you  from telling your  doctor  this  important  information.

  • Tell your doctor what is important to you about your medicines.
  • You may want a medicine with fewest side effects, or fewest doses to take each day. If you have trouble swallowing, you may want a liquid form of medicine. You may care most about cost (there may be a generic drug or another lower-cost medicine you can take), or you may want the medicine your doctor believes will work best.

  • Tell your doctor if you have any allergies to medications or if you have had any troubling side effects from medicines.
  • Tell your doctor if you have any illnesses or problems for which another doctor or health professional is treating you.
  • Tell  your  doctor if you are pregnant, may get pregnant, or are nursing a baby.
  • Tell  your  doctor if  cost  is  a concern, there  may be another medicine that costs  less and will  work  the same.

The 5 RIGHTS to remember

  • The RIGHT medicine
  • For the RIGHT patient
  • In the RIGHT amount
  • At the RIGHT time
  • In the RIGHT way (for example, swallowing instead of chewing a pill)
Last reviewed : 15 March 2011
Writer : Nor Eizlin bt. Mohd Helmi
Hadijah bt. Mohd Taib
Dr. Nour Hanah Othman
Rosidah bt. Din
Siti Nurul Fathihah bt. Baharudin
Hazlin bt. Othman