Why Should I Read Medicine Labels?
Consumers have become very savvy about reading food labels, especially when
it comes to calories, carbohydrates or fat grams. Surprisingly, however, most
consumers are not taking the time to read the labels or package inserts for
their prescription or over-the-counter medicines. Why is this important? Medicine
labels include important information that is mandated--and reviewed--by the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to benefit your health.
Medicine product labels include information about active ingredients as well
as inactive ingredients. This helps you identify anything you might be allergic
to, or whether the medicine contains ingredients that are also in other medicines
you are taking at the same time for different purposes. The "Uses"
section tells you what the drug is for and can help you find the best product
for your symptoms. The "Warnings" section is particularly important:
here's where you can find out who should NOT take this product, when to stop
taking the drug, medical conditions that may make the drug less effective or
unsafe, and when to talk to a doctor or pharmacist before use.
The "Directions" section of the label tells you precisely how to
take the medicine and how much, as well as how long you may safely take that
medication. This section may also tell you how the medicine should be stored
or other specific instructions such as whether or not to take the medicine with
food or on an empty stomach. Sometimes medicines have specific instructions
that may not be obvious, such as avoiding sun exposure. Most importantly, the
"Questions?" section of the label provides a telephone number to call
if you have any product related questions. It is usually best to ask your physician
or pharmacist any specific questions you may have about any medicines you may
Created: 4/5/2004  - Donnica Moore, M.D.