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Prescription Drugs

5 Ways to Be Smart About Prescription Drugs

With 4 in 10 Americans regularly taking a prescription medication and nearly $260 billion spent by consumers on prescriptions in 2014, expert pharmacist Dr. Linda Bernstein, a spokesperson for FamilyWize, a price-comparison tool for prescription drugs, is offering the following tips to help consumers get healthier with their medications this year:

Know what medicine you are taking and why you are taking it. You should know at least one name for your medicine, whether that is the generic name or the brand name. Keep in mind that some brand names are actually a combination of more than one product. Also, make sure you list the complete name, including the extra initials that my follow it, such as XR (extended release) or LA (long acting).

Know how and when to take your medicine and for how long. You should know the instructions for use, including dosage, timing of administration, and length of therapy for each medication. In addition, find out if you can take the medicine with food, or if it best to use on an empty stomach.

Be able to recognize side effects and know what to do if they occur. The list of potential side effects associated with a medicine can be overwhelming, but you can focus on the most common ones you may encounter and how to minimize them, and how to recognize the serious rare side effects that you need to report. If you are unsure, always ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Do not share or borrow medicines. Your medicines are meant for you, and no one else. Variations in kidney, liver and even lung function can alter the way you react to medicines, and your physician has prescribed your medicine to you with those factors in mind. Swapping medicines can only lead to problems.

Explore ways to reduce your medicine bill but maintain quality. Medicines can be expensive and they can vary in price from one pharmacy to another. FamilyWize.org  has a useful drug-pricing tool that can help you do comparison price shopping of your prescriptions in your area. Also, ask your pharmacist about the availability of generic products that are equally effective and can save you money on your prescriptions and over-the-counter products.

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