Although drugs are deemed to be safe and effective before they are released, individual reactions can still occur. You can minimize the chances of having problems by following these suggestions.

***Properly taken, most medicines are remarkably safe. When you get a prescription, make sure your doctor is aware of any other drugs you are taking. If you have more than one doctor and/or a dentist prescribing for you, let each know what the others are prescribing. A safe drug when taken alone might interact badly in combination with another. Mention any nonprescription medicines and whether you drink alcoholic beverages, too. Your doctor may have to be reminded of allergies, other medical conditions or a history of problems tolerating drugs.

***Ask your doctor how long the drug has been on the market and what side effects it can produce.

***When you take a drug, follow instructions exactly. Many over-the-counter and some prescription drugs come with a package insert you should save, since it can help you deal with possible reactions you could have to the medication.

***Never share prescription drugs with others for whom they were not prescribed.

***If you suspect you are having an adverse reaction to a drug, call your doctor or pharmacist at once and stop taking the drug immediately. A serious reaction demands immediate medical attention. Don't be shy in seeking it.

***Ask your doctor or pharmacist to report any adverse reaction to the drug's manufacturer or to the FDA. The quicker the FDA receives a report of a drug reaction from a health professional, the sooner it can respond.