Medicine Information

10 Tips for Responsible Medication Use


All medications, which include prescriptions, over-the-counter preparations, vitamin and mineral supplements, and herbal preparations, are potentially dangerous. Following some simple rules will not only reduce your chance of having a problem, but should reduce your cost as well.

  • Always shop around for medications - there is a significant difference in cost from pharmacy to pharmacy. Check both online and offline sources. For example, several of my patients have realized a significant cost savings by using the Costco pharmacy as well as online Canadian pharmacies. Should you choose to use a Canadian pharmacy, please keep abreast of any laws that may affect your purchase.

  • Always check to see if a generic equivalent is available. Today, there are very few medications on the market where generics are not acceptable.

  • If you can, have your prescription filled for 90 days. It will cost less than if you bough 30 days worth over 3 months. One of the reasons is that pharmacies charge a filling fee for each prescription filled.

  • Will you medication allow you to take a half-tab? For example, if you are taking lisinopril 20mg, you can purchase 40mg tablets and break them in half - a savings of 50%. Always check with your health care provider and/or pharmacist first?not all medications can be broken. Also, consider those nifty little pill cutters?they work wonderfully.

  • Do you really have to take all that medication in the first place? The best advice I can give you is to put everything into a bag and take it with you to your appointment. Make sure that you and your provider are on the same page when it comes to medications/supplements that you are taking. This is especially true when you are seeing more than one prescribing provider. You may have duplicates that you are unaware of. Always ask?"do I really need this"?

  • Keep an up-to-date list of your medications with you at all times.

  • It is your responsibility to learn the names of your medications and why you are taking them! Most likely, your provider does not know what you mean by the "little pink pill" or the "white capsule". There are literally dozens of each.

  • Check your medications before you leave the pharmacy. If something does not look right, ask about it right then. DO NOT take something you are unfamiliar with.

  • Follow label directions. If you are taking something for osteoporosis, chances are you were told to take it with a full glass of water, sitting upright while avoiding any other food or fluids for 30 minutes. They were not making it up! This goes for the labels on over-the-counter preparations. This is one time that "if a little is good, a lot must be better" can be a dangerous thought.

  • Another very important tip. If at all possible, it is in your best interest to have a primary care provider. Ideally, he or she will coordinate your care with specialists, and keep track of all the medications you are on. If you have a complete profile on record, then between your one primary provider, and your one pharmacist, any problems in your medications should be picked up.

  • This bonus tip comes from a lesson taught to me by a wonderful patient of mine?If you and your partner both take medication, do NOT mix them up. It can have serious consequences!

    While proper nutrition and exercise are the mainstays of treatment for most health challenges, medication use is sometimes unavoidable. Make sure you need them; know what they are and how to take them. Follow directions, and don't share! Most of all, always seek to understand what you are taking and what it's suppose to do for you.

    Your body will thank you.

    For over 26 years, Barbara C. Phillips, MN, NP has been involved in health care. Now, as the founder of OlderWiserWomen, LLC, that experience and passion is focused on Women who want to experience the freedom, magic and wisdom of successful aging. She can be reached through http://www.OlderWiserWomen.com


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