Using Medications Wisely


Golden rules for using medicines wisely

  1. Check that the container is not damaged
    When you buy a medicine, check that it has not been opened. Most medicines come in tamper-evident packaging. Check that the barrier/seal is not broken before you buy.
  2. Read the medicine label carefully;
    Read labels and any leaflets in the pack. The labels give you important and essential information about how to use the products correctly. 
  3. Check ingredients
    Read the list of ingredients. Don't assume a product is the same as the last one you bought. A change in formulation or dose can affect how the product works, looks, or how much you should take. 
  4. Check information about the medicine
    Watch out for any special warnings. Check what ingredients are in the product. Check on the right dose for you - how much, how often, how long. Some medicines should not be used if you are already taking other medicines. Or a product may not be suitable for people with certain medical conditions. The label will tell you.
    Make sure the product you choose is the right one for you and your family. Ask your pharmacist or doctor if you are not sure.
  5. Follow directions
    Do what the label says (unless advised to do something different by your doctor or pharmacist). Never use a medicine more often or in larger doses or for longer than recommended on the label. Only use the medicine for the indications shown on the label. Taking more than the recommended dose or taking it more frequently than recommended could be harmful. 
  6. Keep medicines secure
    Keep all medicines out of the reach of children. Some products look attractive to children. Always keep medicines well away from them. It is a good idea to lock these products in a cupboard. If the container has a child resistant cap, make sure you put it back on properly and tightly. 
  7. Don't store for later
    Check the "use by" or "expiry" date. All medicines lose their strength and effectiveness over time. Don't assume a medicine you bought some time ago is still suitable. Some Canadian provinces have medication disposal programs in place. Check the medications return program website to find out how you can properly dispose of your unwanted medications. 
  8. Talk to a health professional
    Ask and you'll get the answers you need. If you still have questions after reading the label, talk to your pharmacist or doctor. They can help you use your medicines safely and effectively.