November 2002

Warning labels on your medication

The pharmacist frequently puts information on the bottle of your prescription medicine. This usually includes warnings and cautions about the medicine.

Milo was on a medication that he took every day for more than a year. He noticed that the information for this prescription differed month to month. One month the label said the medicine might cause drowsiness, while the next month it didn't. Another time the label said to take it with food, and the next month it did not.

Although Milo already knew the side effects of the medication, he still read what was written on the pill bottle each month. When he saw that the cautions varied he brought it to the pharmacist's attention.

Whenever you have a new medication, take a few minutes to talk to the pharmacist about the possible side effects. These few minutes can make sure you are safe when you use the medication. You don't want to take a drug that may cause drowsiness if you are about to drive the car. Also make sure the pharmacist is aware of other medications you are taking.

Ask your pharmacist key questions so you will use the medication safely.

  • What are the common side effects of this medicine?
  • Is there anything I should not do until I know how I react (e.g. drive a car)?
  • Does this drug interact with any of my current medications?

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