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The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2005: Everything You Need To Know For Safe Drug Use    by James J. Rybacki order for
Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2005
by James J. Rybacki
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Paperback

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the 2005 edition of a reference book in use for over 25 years. James J. Rybacki starts with an Author's Note that advises us how to be a 'smart patient', suggests actions to take and questions to ask a physician, and speaks of ensuring you get 'proven medicines'. Sections that follow cover specific 'Points for the Patient', 'Points for the Pharmacist', and 'Points for the Physician'. Though the advice has a U.S. perspective, most is also generally relevant. A chapter on 'Guidelines for Safe and Effective Drug Use' includes a wecome section on specific implications for those over 65. Following that is a short but fascinating summary of 'True Breakthroughs in Medicine'.

The main portion of the tome covers annually updated 'Drug Profiles' (over 2000 brands and close to 400 drugs). I looked up Lipitor (which a family member takes for high cholesterol) in the index and found it under 'Atorvastatin'. The summary information includes when it was introduced, the fact that it requires a prescription, its brand name, and (most important) possible benefits and risks. This is followed by technical detail, including how the drug works, recommended dosages and conditions that require adjustment of dosage. Advice useful to the layman includes what foods and herbal medicines or minerals can be taken with the drug and which should be avoided.

At the back of the book is a section, 'The Leading Edge', that introduces a few promising medicines 'moving along toward approval', from a vaccine to improve the good/bad cholesterol ratio to a new anticoagulant. This is followed by a listing of 'Drug Classes', with the generic medicines in each; a glossary of medical terms; and tables of information on drugs to avoid during pregnancy, those that affect photosensitivity, to be avoided with alcohol etc.. A 'Personal Drug Profile' can be filled in, and there is also a very useful list of 'Helpful, Balanced, and Objective Web Sites' on different medical topics.

Though I generally like to avoid taking drugs whenever possible, when they are prescribed (for myself or a family member) I like to know what we are taking and how it might affect lifestyle. Knowledge is empowering and The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2005 will be an important addition to our family medical reference shelf.

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