How many times have you been prescribed medication by your healthcare provider, only to arrive home to find that you’re unsure about possible side effects? Or the correct dose? Or the risk of taking the new medication together with other medicines you already use? Have you ever felt too embarrassed — or too rushed — to clarify medication information or instructions with your provider?
If you’ve experienced this, you’re not alone. Nearly half of Americans take a prescription medicine, and more than 20 percent of Americans take at least three. However, according to a recent study conducted by the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), more than 6 of every 10 patients are not aware of the risks associated with the medicines they take. Communication with your health care provider about your medications is critical. Yet too few patients speak up, or even know the right questions to ask.
In an effort to open the lines of communication between patients and providers, NCPIE, in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)*, has created the Talk Before You Take campaign, a public education initiative to increase communication about medications between health care professionals and patients.
“Open and effective communication between patients and health care providers is important and helps to ensure patients make informed decisions about their health care and the medicines they take,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The Talk Before You Take campaign provides a list of questions and other resources that can make it easier for patients to talk with their health care providers about medicines.”
Talk Before You Take urges you to ask your health care provider these 10 questions about your medicines:
1. What’s the name of the medicine, and what is it for?
2. How and when do I take it, and for how long?
3. What side effects should I expect, and what should I do about them?
4. Should I take this medicine on an empty stomach or with food?
5. Should I avoid any activities, foods, drinks, alcohol or other medicines while taking this prescription?
6. If it’s a once-a-day dose, is it best to take it in the morning or at night?
7. Will this medicine work safely with my other medications, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and other supplements?
8. When should I expect the medicine to begin to work, and how will I know if it’s working?
9. How should I store it?
10. Is there any additional written information I should read about?
Asking your doctor, nurse or pharmacist these 10 simple questions can help you stay healthy and safe. For more information, visit www.talkbeforeyoutake.org.
*This work was supported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research under grant number 5U18FD004653-03. The content is solely the responsibility of NCPIE and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Food and Drug Administration.