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.
Medicines are intended to help us live longer and healthier, but taking medicines the wrong way or mixing certain drugs and supplements can be dangerous. Older adults often have multiple medical conditions and may take many medicines, which puts them at additional risk for negative side effects. Read on to learn how to safely take and keep track of all your medicines.
It can be dangerous to combine certain prescription drugs, OTC medicines, dietary supplements, or other remedies. For example, you should not take aspirin if you take warfarin for heart problems. To avoid potentially serious health issues, talk to your doctor about all medicines you take, including those prescribed by other doctors, and any OTC drugs, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies. Mention everything, even ones you use infrequently.
When you travel, your health care provider may recommend that you adjust your medicine schedule to account for changes in time zones, routine, and diet. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about these changes before you depart. Carry a list of all the prescription drugs, OTC medicines, and supplements you take and the phone numbers of your doctors and pharmacists. When flying, carry your medicines with you; do not pack them in your checked luggage. Take enough medication with you in case you need to stay longer. Always keep medicines out of heat and direct sunlight both at home and when traveling.
Taking many medications can also increase the risk for side effects and other unintended problems. Researchers are studying deprescribing, an approach to safely reduce or stop medications that are potentially inappropriate or unnecessary. Read how NIA supports research on polypharmacy and deprescribing to help ensure older adults take only those medicines they need to help them live full, healthy lives.
Anyone can become addicted to prescription pain medicines. Never take more medicine than the doctor prescribes. Read more about opioids and prescription pain medicines in the Pain and Older Adults booklet.
As you age, changes in your body can affect how well medicines work. For example, the body may become less able to absorb the medicine. Older adults often have multiple medical conditions or take several medications at the same time, which can also affect how medicines work. And as an illness worsens, the medicines used to treat it might not be as effective as they once were. Talk to your doctor if you think your medicine is not working as well as it should be.
Some medications need to be taken when your stomach is empty because food or drink can affect how they work. Taking medicines on an empty stomach generally means that you should take your pills at least two hours before you eat or two hours after you eat. However, this is only a rough guideline. Be sure to follow the instructions from your pharmacist about exactly when to take your medications.
Flushing medicines: Because some medicines could be especially harmful to others, they have specific directions to immediately flush them down the sink or toilet when they are no longer needed, and a take-back option is not readily available.
Disposing medicines in household trash: If a take back program is not available, almost all medicines, except those on the FDA flush list (see below), can be thrown into your household trash. These include prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in pills, liquids, drops, patches, and creams.
The FDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency take the concerns of flushing certain medicines in the environment seriously. Still, there has been no sign of environmental effects caused by flushing recommended drugs. In fact, the FDA published a paper to assess this concern, finding negligible risk of environmental effects caused by flushing recommended drugs.
Most medicines today are made in laboratories and many are based on things found in nature. After a medicine is created, it is tested over and over in many different ways. This lets scientists make sure it's safe for people to take and that it can fight or prevent an illness.
If your body makes too much of a certain chemical, that can make you sick too. Luckily, medicines can replace what's missing (like insulin) or they can block production of a chemical when the body is making too much of it.
When it comes to fighting illnesses, there are many types of medicines. Antibiotics (say: an-ty-by-AH-tiks) are one type of medicine that a lot of kids have taken. Antibiotics kill germs called bacteria, and different antibiotics can fight different kinds of bacteria. So if your doctor found out that streptococcal bacteria were causing your sore throat, he or she could prescribe just the right antibiotic.
Cream that helps a bug bite stop itching is another example. Your cold had to go away on its own, just like the bug bite needed to heal on its own, but in the meantime, these medicines helped you feel less sick or itchy.
Many people also take medicines to control illnesses that don't completely go away, such as diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure. With help from these medicines, people can enjoy life and avoid some of the worst symptoms of their illnesses.
Finally, there are important medicines that keep people from getting sick in the first place. Some of these are called immunizations (say: ih-myoo-nuh-ZAY-shunz), and they are usually given as a shot. They prevent people from catching serious illnesses like measles and mumps. There is even an immunization that prevents chickenpox, and many people get a flu shot each fall to avoid the flu. Although shots are never fun, they are a very important part of staying healthy.
A lot of medicines are swallowed, either as a pill or a liquid. Once the medicine is swallowed, the digestive juices in the stomach break it down, and the medicine can pass into the bloodstream. Your blood then carries it to other parts of your body where the medicine works best.
Other medicines would take too long to work if they were swallowed. When you get an IV in the hospital the medicine gets into your blood quickly. Other medicines need to be breathed into the lungs where they work best for lung problems, like some of the medicines used to treat asthma.
Falsified medicines are often disguised as authentic medicines but may contain ingredients of bad or toxic quality, or in the wrong dosage. As they have not been properly checked for quality, safety and efficacy, as required by strict EU authorisation, they can pose a real risk to your health. As falsified medicines become more sophisticated, the risk of them reaching patients in the EU increases. They represent a serious threat to global health and call for a comprehensive strategy both at European and international level.
The Directive requires EU countries to introduce effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties for the falsification of medicines and misconduct in relation to active substances and excipients. In January 2018, the Commission submitted a report to the European Parliament and Council giving an overview of the penalties in place in individual EU countries and a qualitative assessment of their effectiveness. The Commission was aided in its assessment by an external study.
"The Medicines Patent Pool was established as a landmark initiative to expand access to treatments for priority diseases. Over the last decade, MPP has become a strong partner in global health, working to facilitate access to HIV and hepatitis C medicines in low- and middle-income countries through voluntary licensing and patent pooling. With its impressive track record, MPP has a critical role to play in making affordable versions of patented essential medicines and technologies available to those who need it the most, including for COVID-19."
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We are a global biopharmaceutical company focused on helping to address the unmet medical needs of patients with serious diseases. In 2021, we invested $9 billion in R&D, which included the discovery and development of new medicines.
Below is a list of our company's marketed products. Any linked documents and websites are intended only for U.S. residents 18 years or older, as the availability of medicines and the indications for which they are approved can vary with country and region. 2b1af7f3a8