Health with Dr. Paula: Prescription Drug Safety

Health with Dr. Paula: Prescription Drug Safety

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - When you receive a prescription, there's important safety information that you should be aware of that comes from your physician and pharmacist.

Dr. Paula Walker King from Columbus State University stopped by the morning show on Tuesday to tell us about the importance of remembering to "educate before you medicate."

Things to know:

All medicines have benefits as well as risks. Therefore with any pharmaceutical therapy, you want to minimize any associated risks of the medication by being knowledgeable about how the medication works.

You should always ask your physician the following questions when you get a new


  • What is the name of the medicine and what is it supposed to do?
  • How and when do I take this medicine?
  • What foods, drinks, other medicines, dietary supplements, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
  • What are the possible side effects, and what do I do if they occur?
  • Are there any tests that will be required while I am on this medication to make sure it is working safely?

A product that could set off a dangerous reaction? Grapefruit. Certain chemicals that grapefruit products and citrus fruits contain can interfere with the enzymes that break down (metabolize) various medications in your digestive system. As a result, more medication stays in your body. This can increase the potency of a medication to potentially dangerous levels, causing serious side effects.

A few prescription medications that can have serious interactions with grapefruit products include:

  • Cholesterol lowering medications like Zocor, Lipitor, Mevacor
  • Antidepressants e.g. Zoloft
  • Antihistamine e.g. Allegra
  • Blood Pressure medication e.g. Procardia

Always be safe and smart about how your are using and storing medications:

  • Always keep an updated list of your medications and take that with you to each doctor visit
  • Store medicines in a cool, dry place
  • Keep your medicines separate from those of your spouse or other family members
  • Keep the medicine in the bottle it came in. The amber color protects the medicine from light.

You will also have the information right there about what the medicine is and how often to take it. The label will also have the phone number of the pharmacy so you can call when it is time for a refill.

  • Take unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers and mixing them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and putting them in impermeable, non-descript containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags, and throw them in the trash (Note: Flushing prescription medications down the toilet is now being reviewed, as this may harm waterways and their ecosystems)
  • Only flush prescription medications down the toilet only if the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs doing so e.g. if the medications are highly addictive and for all controlled substances, such as Percocet or OxyContin. Take advantage of community pharmaceutical take-back programs or community solid waste programs.

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