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Medicines

Also called: Drugs, Medications

Summary

Medicines can treat diseases and improve your health. If you are like most people, you need to take medicine at some point in your life. You may need to take medicine every day, or you may only need to take medicine once in a while. Either way, you want to make sure that your medicines are safe, and that they will help you get better. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration is in charge of ensuring that your prescription and over-the-counter medicines are safe and effective.

There are always risks to taking medicines. It is important to think about these risks before you take a medicine. Even safe medicines can cause unwanted side effects or interactions with food, alcohol, or other medicines you may be taking. Some medicines may not be safe during pregnancy. To reduce the risk of reactions and make sure that you get better, it is important for you to take your medicines correctly. You should also be careful when giving medicines to children, since they can be more vulnerable to the effects of medicines.

Start Here

  • Drugs@FDA: FDA Approved Drug Products (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Index to Drug-Specific Information (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Information for Consumers and Patients (Drugs) (Food and Drug Administration)
  • MedlinePlus: Drug Information (National Library of Medicine) - Information on prescription and over-the-counter medicines and supplements Also in Spanish
  • Think It Through: Managing the Benefits and Risks of Medicines (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish

Diagnosis and Tests

Related Issues

  • "Off-Label" Drug Use (Consumer Reports)
  • Biosimilar and Interchangeable Biologics: More Treatment Choices (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
  • Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
  • Electronic Prescribing (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)
  • Generic Drugs Undergo Rigorous FDA Review (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Generic Drugs: Questions & Answers (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
  • Herbal Supplements May Not Mix with Heart Medicines (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • How to Use Liquid Medications (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists)
  • How to Use Transdermal Patches (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists)
  • Mixing Medications and Dietary Supplements Can Endanger Your Health (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
  • Some Medicines and Driving Don't Mix (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
  • Using Medicines Wisely Easy-to-Read (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
  • Where and How to Dispose of Unused Medicines (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish

Genetics

  • Using Genes to Guide Prescriptions From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of General Medical Sciences)

Statistics and Research

  • Aspirin to Zoloft: Ways Medicines Work From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of General Medical Sciences)
  • FastStats: Therapeutic Drug Use (National Center for Health Statistics)
  • LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; National Library of Medicine)
  • Medicine's Life Inside the Body From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of General Medical Sciences)
  • Medicines by Design From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of General Medical Sciences)
  • What Is Pharmacogenomics? From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of General Medical Sciences)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

  • Article: Mapping the methodological diversity of published drug discontinuation studies-a scoping review...
  • Article: Expensive seems better: The price of a non-effective drug modulates its...
  • Article: Developmental changes in the extent of drug binding to rat plasma...
  • Medicines -- see more articles

Reference Desk

  • Some Medicines and Driving Don't Mix (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish

Find an Expert

  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Institute for Safe Medication Practices
  • SafeMedication.com (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists)

Children

Teenagers

  • Understanding Medications and What They Do (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish

Women

  • Osteoporosis (Endocrine Society)

Older Adults

  • As You Age: You and Your Medicines (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Four Medication Safety Tips for Older Adults (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
  • Medications Older Adults Should Avoid or Use With Caution (AGS Foundation for Health in Aging)

Patient Handouts

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.

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