As a licensed pharmacist for 18 years I have heard many myths about medications. These misconceptions are barriers to using medications effectively. Many patients believe these myths. Addressing them should be part of a successful medication counseling and education session. What myths have you heard? Add to the list by joining the community and adding your comments.
Medication Myth #1: Supplements are natural and are therefore safe.
Supplements are not rigorously studied, regulated, or proven to be safe. Many may be harmful and interact with medications. Some supplements contain chemicals that are similar to chemicals in prescription medications.
Medication Myth #2: Supplements are effective for curing disease.
Most supplements are not proven effective for curing any condition and may harmful. Some contain potent ingredients that cause serious biochemical changes and interact with many medications.
Medication Myth #3: I know more than my healthcare providers.
Medicine is very complex and medication therapy is based on years of testing and evaluation not intuition, informercials, or the latest evening news sound bite. Healthcare providers spend many years training to learn the best treatments for a particular condition for a specific patient.
Medication Myth #4: Medications do not work.
Medications are scientifically evaluated and tested for efficacy and safety and work better than placebo (sugar pill) for the majority of the population. It is true that a medication may not be effective for everyone but unless taken as prescribed it is difficult to evaluate its effectiveness. Every year thousands of people die needlessly from conditions that could have been prevented or managed with modern medicine. Don’t be part of the statistic.
Medication Myth #5: You can take your medication when you feel like it.
Poor medication adherence or noncompliance is a major reason why medications do not work as intended. When medications are not used as prescribed adequate drug blood levels are not achieved, reducing effectiveness of medications. Medications are more effective when taken as directed.
Medication Myth #6: I am allergic to my medication.
This is only a myth if it is not an allergic reaction. Medication allergies occur but should be distinguished from regular side effects of the medication. Pharmacists and other healthcare providers can determine whether the symptoms are a true allergy, a regular side effect of the medication, or even a drug interaction.
Medication Myth #7: There is no help for reducing the cost of medications.
Millions of dollars allocated for free medications or substantially reduced cost of medications. Pharmaceutical companies have prescription medication assistance programs that many patients can use to reduce the cost of medications. Apply for assistance and see whether you qualify.
Medication Myth #8: It worked for my friend or family member so I can use their medication.
Many conditions have similar symptoms but are treated differently. Moreover, medications appropriate for one person may not be appropriate for another for many reasons such as other conditions that may be present or a different dose of the same medication may be required. Educate yourself but always seek professional help and not use another person’s prescription.
Medication Myth #9: Generic medications do not work as well as brand name medications.
If this is true then the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been deceiving us for a long time. There are some rare instances where generic versions of a medication have not performed as well as the brand. For most medications the generic version is as effective as the brand. If in doubt pay for the brand name medication but your insurance may not cover the cost.
Medication Myth #10: Pharmaceutical companies are withholding the cure for chronic diseases so they can keep people alive longer and make more money.
Scientists and executives that make these decisions are human and also suffer from the same conditions or have loved ones with the same diseases. It is not believable that they will also withhold a cure from themselves and their loved ones. There are many diseases that are cured today and the drug manufacturers still earn a profit. Manufacturers are spending resources to find cures for many diseases. Scientific breakthroughs in medicine are difficult, take a log time, and sometimes scientists get lucky.
Medication Myth #11: Pharmaceutical companies are only interested in profit.
Pharmaceutical companies are businesses and need to be profitable to stay in business. They are not charitable organizations. It cost over 1 billion dollars and it takes 8 to10 years on average to bring a medication to market. Many medications are not approved or fail to earn their development cost after approval. The cost of a medication makes up for the cost of medication failures, development of future medications, and a profit for investors. No one will invest in medication development if there is no financial incentive and opportunity for a great return that justifies the risk. At the same time it takes passion, dedication, and caring about outcomes and impact of medications on patients lives to toil for years without knowing whether a drug candidate will be successful. We should commend the thousands of scientists that help make new treatments available.
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