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Q: What should I expect to be told about any newly prescribed medication?

A: When it comes to medication, what you don’t know can definitely hurt you. Almost half of all Americans regularly take at least one prescription drug, and half of older patients take three or more, according to a report released in by the National Center on Health Statistics. But doctors don’t always communicate critical information about the drugs they prescribe. And prescription drug misuse is a growing problem, contributing to thousands of deaths each year.

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A good day for registered pharmacist Michelle Kasperowitz, 37, is when she's peppered with questions. They can range from which blood pressure monitor to buy to whether a rash is poison ivy. And, because she works in a supermarket, she gets lots of food-related inquiries as well. "One man came up to me recently, waving a bag of broccoli," says Kasperowitz, who works at the ShopRite Pharmacy in Woodbridge, N.J. "He's on a blood thinner, and he wanted to know if he could eat it."    Kasperowitz's...

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According to recommendations from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, always ask:

• The name of the medication, and whether the drug is a trade medication or generic

• Why the drug is being prescribed

• How, when, and how long to take the medication

• The drug’s possible adverse side effects and what to do if they occur

• When to expect the medication to work, and how to tell if it is working

• If any foods, herbal supplements, and other medications should be avoided while taking the drug

Be informed before you take a new drug.

Louise Chang, MD, WebMD Medical Editor

 

Reviewed on January 01, 2007

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