Questions About Medicines

Ask your health-care team the following questions about any of the medicines they prescribe or recommend, including any samples they give you or over-the-counter (OTC) products.

• What are the brand and generic (non-brand) names of the medicine?


• What is the active ingredient?

• Could I use a generic form?

• What is the medicine for, and what will it do for me?

• When should I start to feel better or see other, measurable results?

• When should I report back to the team?

• Will this medicine take the place of any other medicine I have been using?

• Should I avoid any drinks, foods, other substances, or activities while using this medicine?

• Can this medicine be used safely with the other medicines and treatments I already use, including any prescription or OTC medicines, vitamins, herbals, or other supplements?

• Should I avoid starting other medicines (prescription or OTC), dietary supplements (like herbals and vitamins), or other treatments while I am using this medicine?

• What are the possible side effects from this medicine? What do I do if I get a side effect?

• Is there any chance that I could become tolerant, dependent, or addicted to this medicine? If so, what can I do to avoid this?

• How and when should I use the medicine, in what amount, and for how long? Are there any special directions for using this medicine?

• Will I need any tests (blood tests, x-rays, other tests) to make sure the medicine is working as it should? How will I get the results?

• What should I do if I miss a dose?

• What should I do if I take too much by mistake?

• How and where should I keep this medicine? (Always put medicines out of the sight and reach of children and pets.)

• Where and how can I get more information about this medicine?

These questions are based on a consumer guide developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For more tips from the FDA, go to