Be Safer Tip Sheet

Tip #1: Look up information about any FDA-approved drug.

Visit the FDA’s “Drugs@FDA: FDA Approved Drug Products” search page, click here.

Tip #2: Find out if your medication(s) should come with a Medication Guide (an FDA-approved paper handout that should be provided to you if your prescribed medication requires one).

Search for Medication Guides at FDA.gov, click here to access the searchable database.

To read more about Medication Guides and why these are so important, click here.

Tip #3: Tell the FDA about any “side effects” concerning to you (these could be suspected or confirmed adverse drug reactions). They don’t receive enough reports and, without your reporting, they can’t act quickly to update safety risks, add restrictions or remove unsafe drug products from the market.

To report online, by phone (1-800-332-1088), mail or fax to the FDA’s Medwatch program, click here .

If you prefer to download or view the paper form to report your adverse drug reactions, click here.

Please note that if you are reporting any adverse drug reactions that are already known and listed on the drug product labeling and you talk with your healthcare provider about those concerns, depending on the severity, your healthcare provider may not share your concern and may not report (and they are not required by law to report to the FDA). However, you do have the right and option to report to the FDA yourself. Note: All drugs come with known and unknown side effects and adverse drug reactions.

Tip #4: Connect with Patient Advocacy Groups who are focused on causes related to specific drugs or drug types that may be of interest to you.

The Quinism Foundation (drug type: anti-malarials).

Benzodiazepine Information Coalition (drug type: benzodiazepines).

W-BAD, World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day | July 11th (drug type: benzodiazepines).

Post-Finasteride Syndrome Foundation (drug: finasteride, also marketed and sold under the brand names Propecia or Proscar).

Opioids.TheTruth (drug type: opioids).

Tip #5: Make safe disposal of your unused or expired medications a regular habit.

Find a location nearest you by using the search tool on the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s website, click here.

Avoid keeping unused or expired medications in your house (someone could use intentionally or accidentally and be injured) or flushing those medications down your toilet (this can contaminate water supplies).

Tip #6: Stay informed about any new safety updates to your drug product labels.

Search the FDA’s Drug Safety-related Labeling Changes database, click here.

New safety risks are constantly identified and you may not be notified in a timely fashion, or at all, once those updates are made.

Tip #7: Learn more about certain drug safety terms, like the definition of a “boxed warning” or “adverse drug reaction”.

Check out “A Guide to Drug Safety Terms at FDA” click here (Note: this document is dated back to 2012 and many of the links inside the document no longer work due to the FDA making modifications to their website since this publication was released).

Tip #8: Speak with someone confidentially if you are on a medication right now (or recently stopped) and are feeling severely distressed, anxious, depressed or suicidal.

To talk with someone via text, check out Crisis Text Line, click here or text “HOME” to 741741.

If you are feeling suicidal and would like to talk with someone via phone, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.