What questions should I ask my provider about my medications?

Be sure to talk with your provider or pharmacist about the drugs you take or are about to start taking. Before you start taking a medication, the the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) recommends you ask your doctor or pharmacist the following questions:

  • What are the brand and generic names of the medicine?
  • What is the medicine supposed to do?
  • How should I use the medicine?
    • By mouth?
      • In my eye or ear?
      • On the skin?
      • By injection?
      • Other?
    • How much?
    • How often and at what time(s) of the day?
    • For how long?
    • With meals or without food?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • When will the medicine begin to work?
  • How will I know if the medicine is working and what should I do if it doesn’t seem to be working?
  • What tests, if any, will be needed once I start taking this medicine?
  • What side effects should I watch out for?
    • How long will they last?
    • What should I do if they occur?
    • How can I lessen the side effects?
  • What should I avoid while using this medicine?
    • Driving and operating machinery?
    • Drinking alcohol?
    • Eating certain foods?
    • Taking certain medicines (prescription, over-the-counter, dietary supplements?)
    • Are there any other precautions?
  • How should I store this medicine?
    • At room temperature?
    • In the fridge?
    • Away from heat, sunlight and/or humidity?
    • Can I store it in another container?
  • Can I get a refill? If so, when?
  • Are there any special instructions about how to use this medicine?

Find more information on taking and managing your medication here.

After leaving your healthcare provider’s office or your pharmacy, you can always reference the drug label if you are looking for information on:

  • What the drug is used for
  • Instructions for how to take the drug
  • Side effects and how to reduce the risk of unwanted side effects and drug interactions

If you have read the label on your prescription and still have questions, contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Click here for a printable checklist of questions you should be sure to ask.