18 Questions to Ask About a New Medication

by Karen Lee Richards Patient Advocate

Since it's your body and your health that could be at risk, you have both the right and the responsibility to know everything you can about the medications you are taking.

Name of the drug

Ask your doctor: What is the name of the drug (both generic and name brand)?

What for?

Ask your doctor: What am I taking this medication for?

Replacement drug?

Ask your doctor: Does this medication replace another medication I am currently taking or should I take it in addition to what I already take?

How often?

Ask your doctor: How often should I take this medication (at bedtime, twice a day, as needed, etc.)?


Ask your doctor: When should I take this medication (for example, if I'm to take it three times a day, does that mean with meals, or once every 8 hours)?


Ask your doctor: How long will I be taking this medication (until I feel better, until it's gone, indefinitely, etc.)?


Ask your doctor: Can I get refills? If so, how many times can it be refilled without another appointment?


Ask your doctor: How soon should I expect to start feeling better?

Side effects?

Ask your doctor: What are the possible side effects of this medication?

Reacting to side effects?

Ask your doctor: What should I do if I experience any side effects?

Instructions for use?

Ask your pharmacist: When and how should the medication be taken?


Ask your pharmacist: What should be avoided while taking this medication that might cause dangerous drug interactions or severe adverse reactions? For example, both prescription and over-the-counter medications may have interaction problems, as may supplements, foods, alcohol, activities, etc.)


Ask your pharmacist: Are there any ingredients that might cause an allergic reaction?

Common and rare side effects?

Ask your pharmacist: What are the possible side effects (both common and rare)?

Missed dose?

Ask your pharmacist: What do you do if you forget to take a dose?


Ask your pharmacist: How do you store the medication?


Ask your pharmacist: What is the expiration date?


Ask your pharmacist: Is it safe to use during pregnancy or while breast feeding?

Do your part!

In addition to asking the appropriate questions, you have to take the medications properly. Follow the dosing instructions carefully. If you experience a troublesome side effect or any unusual reaction, call your doctor.

Karen Lee Richards
Meet Our Writer
Karen Lee Richards

Karen is the co-founder of the National Fibromyalgia Association. She writes for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Pain Management.