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Frequently Asked Questions About Medications

If you need more information about your medication or are concerned about something you read in the newspaper or heard about on TV, the answers to commonly asked questions about specific drugs may be helpful.

Generic Drugs - Are There Counterfeit Generic Medications?
Counterfeit drugs are medications that are produced using ingredients that may be inactive, incorrect or harmful. Counterfeit drugs can put you at risk for serious health problems.

My Doctor's Prescription: 4 Times-a-Day or Every 6 Hours?
Doctors use abbreviations that tell your pharmacist which medication to give you and directions on how to use that medication. QID and Q6H mean different things.

Can Medications Used for Animals Be Taken By People?
Some people who work with animals, such as farmers, rodeo employees, horse trainers, and veterinary staff, take medications meant for their animals. This practice is not safe.

Can Extended-Release Drugs Cause Side Effects?
Extended-release medications have a special coating or ingredients that control how fast the drug is released from the pill into your body. Extended-Release Drugs, or XR drugs for short -- like all medications -- can cause side effects.

I Have Diabetes. Why Does My Doctor Want Me to Take an ACE Inhibitor?
People with type 2 diabetes often have high blood pressure. The combination of these conditions significantly increases the risk for heart attack and stroke. People with type 2 diabetes may need to take medication such as an ACE inhibitor to treat high blood pressure.

Is It Safe to Take Phenytoin, the Generic Version of Dilantin?
Dilantin is commonly used to treat epilepsy. Many health plans require that people with epilepsy use phenytoin, the generic version of Dilantin. Some people with epilepsy report problems with generic seizure medications.

Generic Drugs: Can I Save at Walmart and Other Big-Box Stores?
Generic drugs can save you up to 80% on the cost of your medication. Big-box stores such as Walmart and target have generic drug programs, which offer a 3-month supply of many generic drugs for $10.00.

Why Are Medications Cheaper in Canada?
Canadian drugs are cheaper than in the U.S., especially for newer brand name drugs. Canadian drugs are less expensive for many reasons, including government controls, drug formulary restrictions, liability issues, and market forces.

Valium: Is It Safe to Take the Generic Version of Valium?
Valium is used to treat anxiety. The brand name version of Valium is expensive and often not covered by insurance. Diazepam, the generic version of Valium, is much less expensive and is as effective as the brand name.

Can I Take Aspirin and Ibuprofen Together?
Aspirin is used by many people at risk to help prevent heart attacks and stroke. Ibuprofen is commonly used for pain relief, especially for people with arthritis. Ibuprofen may interfere with the heart protection properties of aspirin.

ADHD: How Can I Save Money on ADHD Medications?
ADHD is often treated with stimulants, such as Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall. ADHD medications can be expensive, however, generic versions of many ADHD medications are available.

Can I Take Lipitor or Zocor with Grapefruit Juice?
Statins such as Lipitor, Zocor, and Mevacor can interact with grapefruit juice. If you drink grapefruit juice while taking these statins, too much of the drug may enter your blood stream, which could result in serious side effects.

Is a Generic Version of Flomax Available?
Flomax, used to treat an enlarged prostate (BPH), belongs to a class of medications known as alpha blockers. Is there a generic version of Flomax? Learn the answer here.

Side Effects: Can I Report Drug Side Effects to the FDA?
Side effects of medications can be serious. If you have a serious side effect or adverse event from your medication, you can report it to the FDA.

OxyContin: Why Is OxyContin Abused?
OxyContin is a widely used prescription pain killer. OxyContin is a popular street drug because of its ability to induce a quick heroin-like high.

Hypothyrodism: Can Synthroid Cause Hair Loss?
Synthroid may be associated with hair loss if your thyroid disease is not being well controlled. It is not the Synthroid per se, it’s that you may not be getting enough of the Synthroid or you may be getting too much.

My Doctor's Prescription: How Do I Read It?
Reading a prescription immediately after your doctor writes it will help make sure that you know what medication you are getting.Doctors use abbreviations that tell your pharmacist which medication to give you and directions on how to use that medication.

Nasal Sprays: How Do I Use a Nasal Spray?
Nasal sprays are used to deliver medications into your nostrils. Nasal sprays are often used to treat allergies and colds. Nasal sprays such as Fortical are also used to treat osteoporosis.

Can I Have Grapefruit Juice if I Take Plavix?
Plavix interacts with some medications and supplements. Plavix does not interact with grapefruit juice. Plavix is safe to take with grapefruit.

Xanax and Klonopin: What Are the Side Effects?
Xanax and Klonopin belong to a class of medications known as benzodiazepines. Xanax and Klonopin are used to treat people with anxiety and panic disorder. Xanax and Klonopin side effects such as daytime drowsiness, a hung-over feeling, increased appetite and weight gain, change in sex drive, mood changes, allergic reactions, and trouble passing urine.

Is It Safe to Switch to Enalapril, the Generic Version of Vasotec?
Enalapril, the generic version of Vasotec, is a widely used generic and is considered safe and effective. The active ingredient in the generic and brand name versions is the same -- the generic and brand name versions differ in their inactive ingredients, such as fillers and coloring.

Do All High Blood Pressure Medications Have Side Effects?
There are several classes (or types) of medications used to treat high blood pressure and all of them have side effects. Medications used to treat high blood pressure affect the heart and blood vessels and common side effects include changes in their heart beat and fatigue.

Is There a Safe Generic Substitute for Lipitor?
Lipitor, used to treat high cholesterol, does not have a generic equivalent. Lipitor is a statin, a class of drugs used to treat high cholesterol. There are generic versions of several statins.

Counterfeit Drugs: Am I At Risk if I Buy Drugs Online?
Counterfeit drugs are medications that are produced using ingredients that may be inactive, incorrect or harmful. Most counterfeit drugs in the U.S. are bought on the internet from pharmacies that are not certified.

Do I Need to Take Calcium Supplements with Evista?
Evista is a type of prescription medicine called a Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM). It is used to treat or prevent osteoporosis for women after menopause. Women who use Evista should take calcium supplements.

Where Can I Get Help When Choosing a Medicare Part D Drug Plan?
If you are a Medicare beneficiary, one of the most confusing and difficult tasks is deciding which Medicare Part D drug plan is the right one for you. And, after you have been enrolled, you may, at some time during the year, hit the dreaded coverage gap.

What Medications Are Used to Treat an Enlarged Prostate (BPH)?
BPH medications - There are two types of medications used to treat an enlarged prostate (a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH), alpha blockers and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors.

Can Valium Interact with Zyprexa and Depakene?
Valium is prescribed to treat anxiety and can interact with medications used to treat mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Can I Drink Wine if I Take Lipitor?
Lipitor, in some people, can cause liver damage, which can be made worse by drinking alcohol. Drinking in moderation may be acceptable for people who take Lipitor as long as their liver function tests are normal.

Can I Use Vaginal Progesterone During IVF?
Progesterone is an essential part of fertility treatment. Progesterone prepares the lining of the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg. Progesterone is used as part of in vitro fertilization (IVF)

Finding Information About Low-Cost or Free Medications Online
There are a number of reliable websites that provide access to information about low-cost or free medications.

I recently got health insurance for the first time. What is a drug formulary?
A drug formulary is a list of generic and brand name drugs that are preferred by your health plan. Since your health may limit the medications it will pay for, it is important for you understand your health plan's drug benefit and formulary.

Can Norvasc make my ankles swell?
Norvasc is a calcium-channel blocker, a drug used to treat high blood pressure. Like any drug, Norvasc has side effects. Is ankle swelling a Norvasc side effect? Find out in this Q&A on ankle swelling and Norvasc side effects.

Levothyroxine: Is there a difference between brand name and generic versions?
What are the differences between Synthroid and levothyroxine, both of which are used as thyroid treatments? Learn what could happen when you switch between these hypothyrodism drugs.

Osteoporosis Treatment: Is is Safe to Take Fosamax?
Fosamax is frequently used to treat or prevent osteoporosis. Doctors are not sure how long someone should take Fosamax. Fosamax has side effects and in a few people may cause osteonecrosis of the jaw.

How Can I Withdraw from Vicodin?
Vicodin can be addicting if used for a long period of time. Vicodin can cause a number of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if stopped abruptly.

Can I split my antidepressant pills to save money?
Split pills to save money. Some commonly used medications, such as statins for lowering cholesterol, antidepressants, and erectile dysfunction drugs can be split to save money.

How can I properly dispose of medications that I no longer use?
Tips for safely disposing of medications that are expired or you are no longer using.

Can Zoloft Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by many medications and drugs of abuse. Common medications used to treat depression and hypertension can cause erectile dysfunction. Up to 25% of erectile dysfunction in the U.S. is caused by medications.

What Are the Side Effects of Over-the-Counter Sleeping Medications?
Sleep aids are available over the counter (OTC) for the temporary relief of mild sleeping problems. Buying and using OTC sleep aids can be challenging. Learn about the side effects of OTC sleep aids and precautions to take when using them.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Can Antidepressants Help IBS in Teens?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome in teenagers may improve with the use of antidepressants, such as amitriptyline. About 14% of high school students have IBS, and antidepressants can improve their quaility of life.

Should Calcium Supplements Be Taken Once or Twice a Day?
Calcium supplements may be important for you if you do not get enough calcium in your diet. Calcium supplements help replace calcium lost from body and help prevent osteoporosis.

What is a Black Box Warning for a Drug?
Black box warnings, also known as black label warnings or boxed warnings, are named for the black border surrounding the text of the warning that appears on the package insert and label that describe the medication. Black box warnings are the most serious medication warnings required by the FDA.

Ask Dr. Mike About Your Medications
Michael Bihari, MD – known to his friends and colleagues as Dr. Mike – answers readers’ questions about medications. Topics include everything from medication side effects to cost of medications and medication safety issues.

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