Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Safe Medication Use

Millions of people benefit from FDA-approved medicines. However, when medicines are not used correctly, they can cause serious injuries or even death. With the number of Americans using multiple prescription drugs growing each year, safely using medication has never been more important. Follow these four steps to avoid common medicine mistakes:
1.Read the Label.

Before you take any medicine, read the label. It should show:
  • The list of ingredients. If you know you are allergic to anything in the medicine, don’t use it. Ask for a different medicine.
  • Warnings. Read these carefully, and take note.
  • The expiration date. Do not use a medicine after the date on the bottle. It may not work as well.
2.Keep a Record
Make a list of the medicine you take, including vitamins, and keep it with you. Things to write down:
  • What is the medicine’s name?
  • How much should I take?
  • How long should I take it?
       Graphic with four women describing safe medication use and medication use facts. Click for full description.
Share our infographic! The graphic lists four simple steps you can take to promote the safe and proper use of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Visit our infographic page to see a larger image and learn more about safe medication use or flickr disclaimer icon  for even more sizes.

3.Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your medicines.

Good questions to ask are:
  • If I forget to take it, what should I do?
  • Should I take this on an empty stomach or with food?
  • What problems should I watch for?
4. Avoid Problems
Medicines can cause problems or side effects, such as sleepiness, headaches, or rashes. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible side effects. To avoid problems:
  • Organize your medicines.
  • Don’t skip taking your medicines.
  • Don’t share medicines.
Interesting Facts about Medicine Use
  • Eighty-two percent of U.S. adults take at least one prescription drug per week.
  • Twenty-nine percent of U.S. adults take five or more prescription drugs per week. 
  • U.S. spending on prescription drugs reached $234.1 billion in 2008.

 You can help promote information to help keep women and their families safe: share our infographic, watch the video, and download our publications related to medicine use.


      The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Women's Health has created a public service announcement (PSA) titled "Use Medicines Wisely". The PSA provides several tips to encourage the public to safely use their prescription and over-the-counter medicines. 

Download or order any of the free fact sheets and brochures listed on this page. Simply click on the link or go to the Free Publications website.

These booklets provide information on FDA-approved products for high blood pressure, depression, menopause, high cholesterol, birth control, HIV, and smoking cessation.

My Medicines: A Medicine Recordkeeper 

Use the My Medicines brochure to help you keep track of the medicines you take. This brochure is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Polish, and 10 Asian/Pacific Islander languages.  

Fact Sheets

These one-page fact sheets provide easy-to-read information on safe medication use.