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    New Prescriptions


    WebMD Magazine - Feature

    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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    Off-Label Drug Use: What You Need to Know

    The next time your doctor writes you a prescription, consider this: The medication may not be approved for your specific condition or age group. But you probably shouldn't call the medical board. The practice, called "off-label" prescribing, is entirely legal and very common. More than one in five outpatient prescriptions written in the U.S. are for off-label therapies. "Off-label" means the medication is being used in a manner not specified in the FDA's approved packaging label, or insert. Every...

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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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