Buying prescription drugs online
First, it's important to carefully consider the source of information and then to discuss the information you find with your health care professional. These questions and answers can help you determine whether the health information you find on the Internet or receive by e-mail from a Web site is likely to be reliable.
Make sure the site requires a prescription and has a pharmacist available for questions.
Buying your medicine online can be easy. Just make sure you do it safely.
Weighing the risks, making the choice
The benefits of medicines are the helpful effects you get when you use them, such as lowering blood pressure, curing infection or relieving pain. The risks of medicines are the chances that something unwanted or unexpected could happen to you when you use them. Risks could be less serious things, such as an upset stomach, or more serious things, such as liver damage.
Before using any medicine--as with many things that you do every day--you should think through the benefits and the risks in order to make the best choice for you.
There are several types of risks from medicine use: a) The possibility of a harmful interaction between the medicine and a food, beverage, dietary supplement (including vitamins and herbals), or another medicine. Combinations of any of these products could increase the chance that there may be interactions. b) The chance that the medicine may not work as expected. c) The possibility that the medicine may cause additional problems.
To obtain the benefits of riding in a car, you think through the risks. You consider the condition of your car and the road, for instance, before deciding to make that trip to the store.
For example, if facing a life-threatening illness, you might choose to accept more risk in the hope of getting the benefits of a cure or living a longer life. On the other hand, if you are facing a minor illness, you might decide that you want to take very little risk.
In many situations, the expert advice of your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professionals can help you make the decision.
Read and follow the directions on the label and the directions from your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional. If you stop the medicine or want to use the medicine differently than directed, consult with your health care professional.
You always have to pay attention to how you are feeling; note any changes. Write down the changes so that you can remember to tell your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional.
You have to know what to do if you experience side effects and when to notify your doctor, and know when you should notice an improvement and when to report back.
There are more opportunities today than ever before to learn about your health and to take better care of yourself. It is also more important than ever to know about the medicines you take.
If you take several different medicines, see more than one doctor, or have certain health conditions, you and your doctors need to be aware of all the medicines you take. Doing so will help you to avoid potential problems such as drug interactions.
Drug interactions may make your drug less effective, cause unexpected side effects, or increase the action of a particular drug. Some drug interactions can even be harmful to you.
Reading the label every time you use a nonprescription or prescription drug and taking the time to learn about drug interactions may be critical to your health. You can reduce the risk of potentially harmful drug interactions and side effects with a little bit of knowledge and common sense.
When a drug is taken orally, it usually travels from the stomach to the liver, where it can be metabolized-the process of breaking down and removing chemicals from the body. Enzymes are complex proteins that act as catalysts in starting or speeding up chemical reactions. They cause a specific chemical change in other substances without being changed themselves.
The most important enzymes in the liver that metabolize drugs are called the cytochrome P450 family of enzymes. These enzymes break down drugs when they pass through the liver or small intestine.
A drug may affect these enzymes by inhibiting them, which causes reduced activity of the enzyme and a buildup of the drug in the body. Or drugs may "induce" the enzymes, which causes increased activity of the enzyme and a reduction of the drug in the body.
It used to be that the only way to test for drug interactions was in people. Now drug companies can take five test tubes with the five major pathways for metabolism and put their drugs in to see whether it's metabolized by CYP450. This allows to generate a list of possible interactions based on their findings.
This phase of research in test tubes, known as in vitro studies, allows researchers to perform drug-interaction studies in labs by testing a drug with other drugs that have the same route. This has made the research faster and more accurate. If two drugs go through the same enzyme, the presence of one drug can prevent the metabolism of the other. So this allows you to look at the worst-case scenarios and ask: 'What if we put this drug with that one, knowing that they have the same route?'"
Researchers say there are several important variables that affect individual differences in how drugs are metabolized, including race, gender, age, and health conditions. For example, people with kidney or liver disease don't eliminate drugs from their system as well as people who are healthy. Very young children and older people have slower drug metabolism than others, and women may metabolize drugs differently than men in some cases.
Over the last several years, there has been a substantial increase in the number of drug-interaction studies the FDA sees in new drug applications. If drug interactions are significant enough, they can prevent a drug from being approved by the FDA. If the agency determines that known drug interactions can be managed and that a drug's benefits outweigh the risks for the intended population, a drug will be approved. Drug-interaction information then goes into the drug's labeling in the sections on "clinical pharmacology," "precautions," "warnings," "contraindications," and "dosage and administration."
The large number of drugs on the market, combined with the common use of multiple medications, makes the risk for drug interactions significant. Consumers need to tell doctors what they're taking and ask questions, and health professionals could do a better job at trying to get the information they want.
But it is good way -- consumers remind doctors of everything they take when they are prescribed a new medication. So a patient might say: "Now remember, I'm also taking birth control pills. Is there a risk of interaction with this new medicine?"