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"Talk About Prescriptions" Month
Your Medicine Information: Read It and Heed It

Bravo to the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) for declaring October "Talk About Prescriptions" month! Their theme this year is, "Your Medicine Information: Read It and Heed It."

You've often seen me say, "Knowledge is the best medicine," "Knowledge is power," or "Knowledge is empowerment." The NCPIE says something similar: "Educate Before You Medicate; Knowledge is the Best Medicine." This is another area where it's vital for us to be active partners on our health care teams. We need to know what to expect from new medications. Also, doctors are busy and human. Asking questions can help ensure that you're prescribed the best medication for your needs.

You may see "Talk About Prescriptions" Month, and wonder, "What do I talk about? Who do I talk to" A wonderful place to start is by talking to your doctor about your medications when he or she is prescribing them. Remember, if you and your doctor are working as treatment partners, you should be making decisions about medications together. Another great place to start is with the written information that accompanies your prescriptions and the "Drug Facts" labels on over-the-counter (OTC) medication packages. Read this information before you leave the pharmacy so you can ask the pharmacist questions while you're there, if you have any. If you're unsure which OTC to choose, your pharmacies can assist you with that. The patient information sheet with your prescription my have some information you don't understand. Don't hesitate to ask your pharmacist about it. Understanding fully this written information can help you get the most benefit from your medicine, by helping you use it safely and appropriately. Even when refilling a prescription, read the information sheet to check for updated information. In most U.S. states, by pharmacies are required by law to ask if you would like to be counseled about your medicine. Remember, your pharmacist is part of your health care team that we always talk about. If the pharmacist at your pharmacy isn't helpful or seems to resent being asked questions, it's time for a new pharmacy. It's also a good idea to save the most current information sheet from each of your prescriptions. It may come in handy for reference later.

Do you buy prescription medications from more than one pharmacy? Check with your pharmacist to see if they're connected via your insurance company's billing system or any other method to have all of your prescription medications on record so the pharmacist is aware of them. If this isn't something they can do, it's a good idea to buy all your medications from the same pharmacy so your pharmacist will be able to warn you if there are any potential interactions between your prescription medications. Also, ask your pharmacist to list any OTC medications and supplements you take. They can also interact with prescription medications.

Who is the best person with whom to "Talk About Prescriptions?" Whichever member(s) of your health care team you feel most comfortable with, who listens to your questions and concerns. You can Talk About Prescriptions with your doctor, nurse, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, and/or your pharmacist.

This is also a perfect opportunity to "Talk About Prescriptions" with your family and friends if they need to know about them. There may well be times when you have a headache or Migraine, and someone needs to help you take your medications and keep track of what you've taken. Those who help you with this would benefit from knowing what the medications are and other information about them.

"Talk About Prescriptions" Month is also a good time to think about getting a medical ID, if you're not already wearing one. In an emergency, you may not be able to speak for yourself. A medical ID can literally save your life. There are all kinds available, from the more generic to the detailed. After you buy your ID emblem, for a small yearly membership fee, MedicAlert stores your medical information, and will provide it to medical personnel when the phone the telephone number on your ID emblem. A nonprofit foundation, MedicAlert offers their service free to people who meet certain income guidelines.

The NCPIE has two very valuable web sites: for information on prescription medications, and Be MedWise for information on over-the-counter medications. They contains a great deal of valuable information about medications and taking them wisely. I hope you'll visit them, bookmark them, and use them as resources.

For additional assistance, the NCPIE has prepared suggested questions for you to ask about your medications.

Questions for your doctor:

  1. What is the name of the medicine and what is it supposed to do? Is this the brand or generic name? (Is a generic version available?)

  2. How and when do I take the medicine - and for how long?

  3. What foods, drinks, other medicines, dietary supplements, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?

  4. What are the possible side effects, and what do I do if they occur?

  5. When should I expect the medicine to begin to work, and how will I know if it is working?

  6. Will this new prescription work safely with the other prescription and non-prescription medicines I am taking?

Questions for your pharmacist:

  1. Do you have a patient profile form for me to fill out? (If not, then create your own by clicking on Medication List. Print this out, complete the form and show it to your pharmacist before your prescription is filled.) Will it include space for my non-prescription drugs and any dietary supplements?

  2. Is there written information about my medicine? Ask the pharmacist to review the most important information with you. (Ask if it's available in large print or, if necessary, in a language other than English.)

  3. What is the most important thing I should know about this medicine? Ask the pharmacist any questions that may not have been answered by your doctor.

  4. Will any tests or monitoring be required while I am taking this medicine?

  5. Can I get a refill? If so, when?

  6. How should I store this medicine?

Remember, "Your Medicine Information: Read It and Heed It."

Last Updated October, 2004

NOTE: The information on this site is for education and support only. It is not medical advice and should not be construed as such. Always consult your physician if you have new or different symptoms. Never change your treatment regimen or add herbals, supplements, etc., without consulting your doctor.

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other headache disorders and their family, friends, and care partners.
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The AHMA exists to EASE the burden of Migraine and other headache disorders through Education, Awareness, Support, and Engagement.


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NOTE: The information on this site is for education and support only. It is not medical advice and should not be construed as such. Always consult your physician if you have new or different symptoms. Never change your treatment regimen or add herbals, supplements, etc., without consulting your doctor.

All content on this site is physician reviewed by Dr. John Claude Krusz.

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