Saturday, February 20, 2010

Taking Medications: Part I

Along with the diagnosis of a chronic condition often goes the prescribing of medications that need to be taken at home. Today’s post looks at things to think about and do when medications are first prescribed.

Keep a notepad with you at medical appointments and/or ask a “Friend with a Pen” to take notes for you. When your provider prescribes a new medication:

• The name of the drug, correct spelling, and the reason it is being prescribed for you.
• How long will it be before the medication works?
• The best time to take the medicine. Should it be taken on an empty stomach, with meals, after meals, bedtime etc.?
• How often should you take it and how long will you need to take it?
• Foods that need to be avoided while the medicine is being absorbed by the body.
• Whether the new medication interferes with other medications you might be taking
• Could vitamins, supplements and other “over the counter medications” you are taking (e.g. aspirin) or could take (e.g. cold medicine) have an impact on the medication?
• How should you store the medication-does it require refrigeration
• What side effects should you look for? Are there side effects that require you to get immediate medical attention?
• How will you know if the medication is working?
• If you forget a dose, what should you do?
• Other precautions that need to be taken while on a particular medication.

Ask about the cost of the prescribed drug. If it is more than you can pay for, ask if there is a cheaper drug they can prescribe. Will a generic, which is usually much less expensive, work as well as the brand drug? If a generic isn’t possible, ask about samples and drug assistance programs. Websites where you can learn more about patient assistance programs include:

Rx Assist
Partnership for Prescription Assistance 1-888-477-2669
Needy Meds
Condition Based Assistance

When you pick up your prescription from the pharmacy check the label.
• Is your name on the label?
• Is the medication, dosage and instructions identical to what your provider said they were prescribing?
• If there is any difference, talk to the pharmacist.
• If there is a difference between what the pharmacist is telling you and what your provider told you, call the provider immediately.

Read and save information that comes with your medicine.

Take your medication as prescribed.

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