6 Common Prescription Mistakes You Might Be Making
Itrsquos hard to imagine a time when there wasnrsquot a pillmdashsometimes dozens of different onesmdashto treat so many health conditions. Today, 70% of Americans take at least one prescription drug and more than half take two, according to the Mayo Clinic.
While the healing powers of modern medicine are pretty awesome, you still need to be cautious when it comes to any drug. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure 1.3 million people annually.
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In honor of Talk About Your Medicines Month, read up on common mistakes to avoid with your prescriptions.The Brief Newsletter Sign up to receive the top stories you need to know right now. View Sample Sign Up Now
You get the brand name over generic
Yes, theyrsquore cheaper, but generic drugs are just as effective as the brand name. To be approved by the FDA, a generic drug must have the same active ingredients as the original. The only difference is the inactive ingredients, like dye or preservatives, which donrsquot affect the action of the drug. ldquoSmall variations in the generic are permissible,rdquo says Kim Russo, PharmD, chief clinical officer at VUCA Health, a medication video service available at certain pharmacies nationwide. ldquoMost of the time we donrsquot even medically notice it.rdquo If you donrsquot tolerate one of the inactive ingredients well, then you might need the brand name. Otherwise, save yourself the money and go with the generic.
You mix your meds with the wrong foods (or drinks)
Always check what foods or drinks could interact with your medicine. One to watch out for: grapefruit and grapefruit juice. ldquoAs many as 50 drugs on the market can be affected,rdquo Russo says. Depending on the drug, grapefruit juice can reduce or increase absorptionshymdashthe latter could lead to overdose. Then there are certain drugs that shouldnrsquot be taken with calcium-rich foods because they interfere with your bodyrsquos absorption of the medication, Russo says. Plus, there are medications that cause you to lose or retain potassium, so yoursquoll want to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether you need to start (or stop) eating certain foods. And you should ask your doctor if itrsquos OK to drink alcohol while taking your prescription. ldquoAlcohol can turn possible mild side effects into dangerous ones,rdquo Russo says. The FDA has more info on bad food-drug combos.