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Best Way of Using Medication Safely

by Libby Baney, Medications Expert
September 07, 2017

Question: What is the best way of using medication safely?

Answer: When it comes to using medications safely, it's important to talk with your physician and pharmacist to learn about your medications and to ask questions. Here are a few questions that you may want to ask.

1.       What is the name of my medication?

2.       What health condition does it treat?

3.       How should I take it (i.e. when, how often, how long, with or without food)?

4.       How will I know if the medication is working?

5.       What side effects should I expect? Should I report them?

6.       Can I take this medication with other medications that I am currently taking, including vitamins, supplements, and other over-the-counter products?

7.       If the medication was purchased online, consider the following:
a.       Was a prescription required?
b.      Was a physical address and telephone number in the United States listed for the pharmacy?
c.       Did the website offer a pharmacist to answer questions?
d.      Did the pharmacy have a license with your state board of pharmacy?
e.      Does the website use the .pharmacy domain name (e.g. www.safe.pharmacy) or otherwise display the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s (NABP) Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice SitesTM Seal (VIPPS® Seal)?

Before taking a medication, it's important to check the label on the bottle to make sure that what you are about to take is for you and to always follow the directions on the label. You should never take more or less than what is prescribed. If you have difficulty swallowing a tablet or capsule, you can ask your pharmacist if a liquid form of the medication is available or if you can crush the tablet or open the capsule. Never break, crush, or chew a medication without asking your pharmacist first. If your medication looks or tastes different then notify your pharmacist.  Finally, get into the habit of following a routine for taking your medications as this will help you stay on track with treating your health condition. If you have any questions regarding your prescriptions, contact your physician or pharmacist.

Libby Baney is Executive Director of the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies or ASOP Global, an international non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the safety of consumers online. A lawyer and health advocate, she leads ASOP Global’s operations, shapes public policy and advocates for increased international attention to the issue of illegal online drug sellers in the U.S., European Union and Asia.

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