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DailyMed: Know the potential harms of your prescriptions

Most of us take the prescription drugs our doctors prescribe without giving them a second thought. But, many, if not most of brand-name drugs we take, may have harmful side effects in addition to potential benefits. Might a website called DailyMed help you understand the potential harms of your prescriptions?

DailyMed is an FDA web siteoverseen by the National Library of Medicine which provides a wide range of information about virtually all prescription drugs, including their possible harmful side effects. You can also learn about any possible dangers from drug interactions.

The information on DailyMed is essentially what’s written on the official FDA-approved labels for the drugs, although kept in one place and continually updated. You can check the warnings for the generic and brand-name drugs you’re taking and the risks of harmful drug interactions. But, what you’ll find is a laundry list of information.

Unless you have medical training to weigh what is important and what is not, as literally everything associated with a drug is contained in the label, it will be hard to understand potential harms of a drug. Just because something is “associated” with a drug being taken by a sick person does not mean that drug “caused” the problem. This information is included for many reasons, including legal coverage for the drug’s manufacturer.

There is a huge amount of information on the site, which you may want to discuss with your doctor. The site does not appear to have any consumer-friendly parts to it. Even if you were told about a drug’s risks at one time, if the drug has only been on the market 10 or 15 years, new information is always emerging. It is fairly common for the FDA to put out stronger warnings about a drug once it has been on the market for a while or to withdraw it from the market because it has been found to be dangerous. And, your doctor may not be aware.

The DailyMed site contains 95,791 drug listings. You can search by drug name, manufacturer name, or drug class, as well as National Drug Code (NDC ) code, something you can find on a drug’s packaging from each manufacturer.

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2 Comments

  • Once a year is not nearly often enough. I have a variety of doctors giving me new prescriptions and, since I’m prone to negative reactions, I check for side effects every time I get a new med. I do try to keep my various doctors updated on what I’m taking but have found that some doctors really don’t care, probably because they are focused on their own specialty and assume that “they know best”. I’ll be checking out DailyMed but really need a comprehensive way to cross check all my meds and possible interactions as well as side effects.

  • OK I decided to check out DailyMed. I take a number of prescriptions plus OTC meds suggested by my physician. I recently discovered, by accident, that diclofenac potassium 50mg worked better than the hydrocodone that I was taking for chronic pain. But…diclofenac is an nsaid and since I’m old and know that nsaids aren’t recommended for seniors I am concerned about taking too much. I hoped that DailyMed would help me decide. I looked at both the patient and the health care provider versions, got a lot of warnings, but it never addressed an upper limit for seniors or anybody else, nor did it mention a companion med (misoprostol) that helps mitigate some of the gastrointestinal problems from diclofenac. Nor did it make any mention of adverse reactions when mixed with other prescriptions. So, DailyMed isn’t what I’m looking for. I’ll keep looking.

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