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Smart Decisions: Know Your Options

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Decisions About Medicines

See a list of Decision Points about medicines. Decision Points are designed to guide you through key health decisions, combining medical information with your personal values to make a wise health decision.

The first rule of medicines is to know why you need each medicine before you use it.

Learn the facts

  • What is the name of the medicine, and why do you need it?
  • How long does it take to work?
  • How long will you need to take it?
  • How and when do you take it (for example, with food or on an empty stomach)?
  • Are there nondrug options?

Use this medicine information form(What is a PDF document?) to help you.

Consider the risks and benefits

  • How much will this medicine help?
  • Are there side effects or other risks?
  • Could this medicine interact with other medicines or herbal supplements that you currently take?

Ask about costs

  • How much does the medicine cost?
  • Is a generic form of the medicine available and appropriate for you?
  • Is there a similar medicine that will work almost as well and cost less?
  • Can you start with a prescription for a few days to make sure the medicine agrees with you?

Talk to your doctor

  • What are your concerns about the medicine?
  • What do you expect the medicine to do? Are your expectations realistic?
  • What other prescription and nonprescription medicines are you taking?
  • Do you want to try the medicine or try other ways of treating the problem?

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 25, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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