Prescription Drug Precautions


  • 1.

    Don't give up on medical research.

    “Never before have we had so many scientific advances that need to be evaluated,” says John Gallin, MD, director of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. But there’s a serious shortage of volunteers to help test the potential breakthroughs in the more than 50,000 clinical trials currently under way around the world. Some studies do come with risks; others don’t. Many volunteers say they see enrolling in a clinical trial as a kind of civic duty — with the potential to do good for all mankind.

  • 2.

    Be wary of new drugs.

    All medicines come with risks. When a doctor prescribes one, he’s making a judgment call that its benefits outweigh its dangers. But with newly approved drugs, the risks are not always well understood at first. That’s why Drummond Rennie, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, advises sticking to meds that have been on the market for at least four or five years: “I never, ever take a new drug.   I want to see reports on the toxic effects after many thousands of people have taken it.” The exception: A patient with a life-threatening condition may be more willing to accept risks. Check your meds at

  • 3.

    Report your side effects.

    As a consumer, you can (and should) report adverse reactions to drugs and medical devices directly to the FDA. You can submit a form online at or call 800-FDA-1088.

  • 4.

    Pony up.

    Urge your representatives to support increased funding for the FDA. Visit to find contact information and to learn what the Alliance for a Stronger FDA (with more than 100 nonprofit, consumer and industry groups, as well as former FDA commissioners and Secretaries of Health) is doing to improve the agency that is entrusted with America’s health.

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