Prescription Drug Safety

Questions to Ask Your Doctor & Pharmacist to Help You Use Your Medications Safely

It’s very important to know about and use medications properly and as prescribed by your doctor to maintain and manage your health.

Remember that your physician and your pharmacist are your partners in drug education and safety! Make sure you have the information you need to use your medications correctly and appropriately.

Here are important questions from the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE):

  1. What is the name of the medication and what is it for?
  2. Is a generic version available and does my physicians want me to use it? ( some doctors do not use the generic version of certain drugs, check with your doctor)
  3. How and when do I take it –and for how long?
  4. What foods, drinks, other medications, dietary supplements, or activities should I avoid if I am taking this medication?
  5. When should I expect the medication to begin to work, and how will I know if it is working? Are there any tests required with this medication (liver or kidney function tests)
  6. Are there any side effects? What are they and what should I do? (Great question to ask your partners, your pharmacist or physician.)
  7. How should I store this medication? Refrigeration, not in light?
  8. Do I need this medication refilled? Are refills noted?
  9. Is there written information available about the medication, is it available in a language other than English, and is it available in large print?

Medical History

Be sure to tell your physician and pharmacist your complete medical history. Include all the other medications and products you are using, both prescription and non-prescription. Include dietary supplements/herbal remedies, vitamins, and minerals. Remember that pain medications and sleeping aids are important to know about as they may interfere with the effectiveness of prescribed medications.


Tell your partners if you are having any problems with medications you are taking and of course make them aware of any allergies you may have or if you may be pregnant. Keep a list of your medications and update it as needed and every 6 months. Carry a copy with you.