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My Medicines Infographic

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Graphic with four women describing safe medication use and medication use facts. Full text below.

My Medicines
Take Time to Care for Yourself—For Those Who Need You

Women often take care of medicines for the whole family as well as themselves. There are simple steps you can take to help you and your family safety use prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

Read the Label
Before you take any medicine, read the label. It should show:

  • The list of ingredients. If you know you are allergic to anything in the medicine, don’t use it. Ask for a different medicine.
  • Warnings. Read these carefully, and take note.
  • The expiration date. Do not use a medicine after the date on the bottle. It may not work as well.

Keep a Record
Make a list of the medicine you take, including vitamins, and keep it with you. Things to write down:

  • What is the medicine’s name?
  • How much should I take?
  • How long should I take it?

Ask Questions
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your medicines. Good questions to ask are:

  • If I forget to take it, what should I do?
  • Should I take this on an empty stomach or with food?
  • What problems should I watch for?

Avoid Problems
Medicines can cause problems or side effects, such as sleepiness, headaches, or rashes. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible side effects. To avoid problems:

  • Organize your medicines.
  • Don’t skip taking your medicines.
  • Don’t share medicines.

Interesting Facts about Medicine Use

  • Eighty-two percent of U.S. adults take at least one prescription drug per week.
  • Twenty-nine percent of U.S. adults take five or more prescription drugs per week.
  • U.S. spending on prescription drugs reached $234.1 billion in 2008.

The six most prescribed types of drugs in 2010 were:

  • Cardiovascular, with 286.5 million prescriptions.
  • Pain, with 131.2 million prescriptions.
  • Antibiotics, with 104.9 million prescriptions.
  • Thyroid, with 70.5 million prescriptions.
  • Antacids, with 53.4 million prescriptions.
  • Diabetes, with 48.3 million prescriptions.

The conditions treated by the most commonly used prescription drugs vary by age:

  • For children ages 0-11 years, the most commonly used prescription drugs treat infections (3.7%), asthma or allergies (3.9%), and asthma (5.7%).
  • For adolescents ages 12-19 years, the most commonly used prescription drugs treat depression (4.8%), asthma (5.4%), and attention deficit disorder (6.1%).
  • For adults ages 20-59 years, the most commonly used prescription drugs treat high cholesterol (8.4%), pain (10.1%), and depression (10.8%).
  • For adults ages 60 and older, the most commonly used prescription drugs treat high blood pressure (19.9%), heart disease (26.4%) and high cholesterol (44.9%).

Twenty-eight percent of women say they have borrowed someone else’s prescription drug.

  • Of those who have borrowed a prescription drug, 49 percent said it was because they had the same problem.
  • Seventy-two percent said they had a prescription but ran out or didn’t have it.


Sloane Epidemiology Center, Boston University, 2006
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, National Health Expenditure Accounts, 2008
IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, 2011
CDC/National Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2008
Petersen EE, Rasmussen SA, Daniel KL, Yazdy MM, Honein, MA. Prescription Medication Borrowing and Sharing among Women of Reproductive Age, Journal of Women's Health. September 2008, 17(7): 1073-1080.

Page Last Updated: 12/18/2014
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