Drug Side Effects

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Drug side effects are possible when patients take any medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter. Adverse drug reactions can occur for various reasons, such as interactions with other drugs, incorrect dosage amounts, or allergic reactions to the medicine itself.[1][2] Patients may also react differently to various drugs and medicines due to factors related to age, gender, and other genetic conditions.[3] Just as prescriptions and other drugs come with side effects, so do natural supplements such as herbs and vitamins.[4]



Flickr: DraconianRain
Prevalence All drugs and medicines have the ability to cause adverse side effects and reactions.[2]
Definitions A side effect is any problem that is different from the desired therapeutic or health effect.
Severity Adverse effects can be minor with limited impact or can be severe and life-threatening.[2]
Occur Most common when starting a new medication or changing dosage, but side effects can occur any time.[2]
Interactions May occur because of an interaction with food, alcohol, or another medication.[2]
FDA Medwatch 800-FDA-1088.[5]
Disclaimer The information provided by PharmacyDrugGuide.com is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Do not take any action based on the information on this page without consulting a physician.
Author Susan MacDowell


About Drug Side Effects

The potential for adverse side effects or reactions are minimized when patients take drugs and medications exactly as directed by a physician. However, risks are always involved even when medicines are correctly administered. Side effects may be physical, emotional and behavioral. Many common side effects may be minor, but some of the most severe reactions can be life-threatening, such as a possible increased risk of suicide among children with SSRIs like Paxil® and Prozac®.[6]

Information about potential drug side effects and reactions are printed on an OTC medication's label, and are also available on printed inserts with prescriptions and from physicians or pharmacists. In addition, official drug brand websites generally offer in-depth side effect information.[2]


The FDA and Drug Side Effects

The FDA controls what drugs and medicines a pharmaceutical company can bring to market. Pharmaceutical companies must complete all the proper applications to apply for and gain FDA approval before they can offer any medicine or drug for sale. Part of the approval process requires these drug companies to provide research studies and clinical evidence that their drug is safe for consumers. They must also show that the drug provides the proper benefit and therapeutic effect they claim.[7]

The FDA determines if the stated benefits of the drug will outweigh any risks. After the drug is approved, there may be other adverse effects that have not been anticipated. Because of this concern, the FDA has established "MedWatch". This program allows patients and consumers to voluntarily provide input and report any adverse reactions that they experience first hand.[7]

Niacin Side Effects

A new study suggests that niacin, a drug often used to control cholesterol may have serious side effects.

Reporting Drug Side Effects

For consumers who experience adverse reactions while taking any type of medication, there are several ways to report to the Food and Drug Administration's MedWatch program. There is an online complaint submission form, and the form may either be filled out over the Internet, or downloaded, printed, and faxed to 1-800-FDA-0178 or mailed in. In addition, consumers may call 1-800-FDA-1088 to file reports.[7]

Also see Patient Assistance Programs, Prescription Drugs, Yaz Side Effects, Gilenya Side Effects, FluMist Side Effects, Albuterol Side Effects, Marijuana Side Effects, Drug Coupons, Accutane Side Effects, AARP MedicareRx Plan



  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000819.htm
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 http://nihseniorhealth.gov/takingmedicines/sideeffects/01.html
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1873702/
  4. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/dietarysupplements.html
  5. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/default.htm
  6. http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0704d.shtml
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/HowToReport/ucm053074.htm