5 Ways to Determine the Safety of Your Medicine

By: Rachelle Wilber


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The FDA approves medications, doctors prescribe them, and they are advertised on TV. One would think that all this makes them safe. It can be confusing when alerts about drug hazards hit the media, because it is assumed they have all been through rigorous testing. Here are 5 ways to determine how safe your medication actually is.

Consider Older Medications

If you or your children have been prescribed a medication that has only been around for a few years, consider seeing if there is an older version that has stood the test of time. Consult non-biased sources, such as Consumer Reports Health or materials from the National Library of Medicine. This will help to teach more about the safety of different types of drugs.

Resist Advertisements for Prescriptions

Don’t approach your doctor seeking a prescription due to an attractive advertisement. Direct-to-consumer advertising does not take into account each individual person’s issues, so these drugs should only be used if other options have been exhausted.

Doctors Prescribing the Wrong Medication

Medication errors are all too common. This can be due to miscommunication between the doctor and the pharmacy, or a complete mistake on the part of the doctor. Harm to patients can result from prescription errors and prescribing faults. If you find yourself in this situation, you may want to speak with a lawyer. Professionals, like those at Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., understand that unsafe products exist and will work with you and your family. To protect yourself, you can even write down everything you eat prior to any testing in order to cover the full gamut of possible side effects or drug interactions. Keep an active record of your medical history, and show the doctor any medicine you are taking or issues you have had in the past in so the doctor knows exactly how best to treat you.

Watch for Alerts

Check for reports about drug risks that have been newly discovered. They’re created by both Consumers Union and the Research on Adverse Drug Events and Reports, which are organizations devoted to detecting hazards of medications previously approved by the FDA.

Do Your Part to Add to Research

Let your doctor know if you have an adverse effect to a drug. Watch children closely for any reactions as well. This can help with research and information that is out for people prescribed this drug in the future. With previous people doing this with drugs, it may help you with a new prescription, knowing that someone else had a certain effect.

Over half of prescription drugs cause adverse side effects that are not detected until after the approval by the FDA. Some of this delay is impossible to avoid, but the FDA should definitely do a better job. However, it is impossible to detect every risk of a drug before it is prescribed.

Bio: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on twitter: @RachelleWilber