The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) judges a drug to be safe enough to approve when the benefits of the medicine outweigh the known risks for the labeled use. Doctors, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, and you make up your health care team. To reduce the risks from using medicines and to get the most benefit, you need to be an active member of the team.
To make medicine use SAFER- Speak up, Ask questions, Find the facts, Evaluate your choices and Read the label and follow directions.
The more information your health care team knows about you, the better the team can plan the care that's right for you. They also need to know all the medicines and treatments you use, whether all the time or only some of the time. Before you add something new, talk it over with your team. Your team can help you with what mixes well, and what doesn't.
Your health care team can help you make the best choices, but you have to ask the right questions. When you meet with a team member, have your questions written down and take notes on the answers. You also may want to bring along a friend or relative to help you understand and remember.
Before you and your team decide on a prescription or OTC medicine, learn and understand as much about it as you can, including brand and generic (chemical) names, active ingredients to make sure that you aren't using more than one medicine with the same active ingredient and inactive ingredients — if you have any problems with ingredients in medicines, such as colors, flavors, starches, sugars.
After you have all the information, think carefully about your choices. Think about the helpful effects as well as the possible unwanted effects. Decide which are most important to you. This is how you weigh the benefits and risks.