Prescription Drug Side Effects : Where to find drug side effect information

Boston, MA — With the scary side effects of some drugs making headlines recently, many people have found themselves wondering, "How can I find out the side effects of the prescription drugs I take?" An article in the April issue of the Harvard Health Letter explores this question and gives readers concrete ways to find the answers they need. According to the Health Letter, the first place you can look for information about the drugs you're taking is the insert that comes in the manufacturer's original packaging. However, medications that aren't individually packaged (for instance, pills that the pharmacist counts out versus an inhaler that comes in its original box) don't come with inserts. In that case, the Health Letter suggests you look for the same information in the yearly Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR), which includes every prescription drug package insert. The article explains how to decode some of the jargon found in these sources and what information is the most important to look for. For some prescription drugs, the FDA requires information sheets designed for patients. These sheets are written in plain English and can therefore be easier to understand than the packet inserts and PDR.
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