“Can I just stop my medication?” This question, frequently asked of primary care doctors, has a complicated answer. For starters, if you are taking a medication that is controlling an ongoing medical problem like high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol, you should never stop it on your own—or your problem will return. Many patients do come clean though and report that they just plain stopped their meds. See More
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The FDA has issued a new required warning for all opioid pain medications. If you are taking an opioid, you should be aware of a few potential side effects, including reactions with other medications, and effects on hormone levels.
What are some examples of opioid medications?
Opioids are powerful prescription-only medications, used to manage manage pain when other treatments may not work. Some common opiods include:
- hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin, Norco, Lorcet)
- oxycodone/acetaminophen (Percocet, Endocet, Roxicet)
- oxycodone (Oxycontin, Roxicodone)
- fentanyl (Duragesic, Subsys)
Why exactly was the FDA safety alert issued?
The FDA identified some safety concerns for anyone using opioid pain medications:
- They can interact with many other medications
- They can cause problems with a person’s adrenal glands
- They can decrease sex hormone levels
What kind of medications can react with opioids?
Specifically, opioids may react with antidepressants and migraine medications. See More
Opioid pain medication is an emotional topic for everyone. Patients who struggle with chronic noncancer pain and need opioid medications feel they are portrayed as addicts when they ask for refills. Each week I see many patients using opioids for the appropriate reason, who have tried and failed with other medications and yet feel stigmatized by the use of medicine they need.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have now passed medical marijuana laws, and four more have pending legislation to legalize medical marijuana. Meanwhile, the use of prescription opioid medications (hydrocodone, oxycodone) has increased as the number of Americans with chronic non-cancer pain has increased. With that, we have seen in the United States the disturbing rise in prescription opioid abuse and overdose deaths. See More
We’ve updated our lists of the Top 10 most-dispensed and most expensive prescriptions in the US, with some interesting changes from the end of 2014.
Curious about the most popular prescriptions?
Based on a sample of claims reported by pharmacies across the country, some common antibiotics, like amoxicillin (Amoxil) and azithromycin (Zithromax) top the list, along with heart meds like atorvastatin (Lipitor) and lisinopril (Zestril, Prinivil). See More
Pain is complex, so there is no “one pill fits all” treatment. Hydrocodone is the most prescribed medication in the United States, also marketed in combination with acetaminophen (Tylenol) under the brand names Vicodin, Norco and Lortab.
As of October 6, 2014, all drugs containing hydrocodone are schedule II drugs, and that means they are now much harder to get. There is no question this is a hassle for some patients and physicians but we (doctors) are too quick to prescribe it and for most pain, you don’t really need hydrocodone. See More
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is one of the most commonly used medications so you should know if it hurts your liver or kidneys. The short answer: acetaminophen is safe on the kidneys and may damage your liver, but only at high doses. Here is what you need to know.
How much Tylenol can I take?
Acetaminophen is the generic name for Tylenol so they are the same thing. The recommended daily maximum is 4 grams per day, which would be 8 extra strength Tylenol (500 mg) or 12 regular (325 mg) Tylenol tablets. See More
One in ten visits to a primary care doctor is for fatigue. While certainly not the only cause, your medications can be the culprit for making you sleepy. Here are the players you need to know about.
Beta blockers. These are medications used for high blood pressure, migraine prevention, control of heart rate in atrial fibrillation, and they improve mortality after heart attack. Ok, now for the downside. See More
One of the bright new changes in pain medications over the last few years were two medications: Ultram (tramadol) and now Nucynta (tapentadol). These are different from Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen), Percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen), and Tylenol #3 (codeine/acetaminophen) in many ways and are considered much “gentler.” So, is Nucynta better? Lets look.
1. See More
Are they the same? What’s better? What is the prescription I have? It seems complicated but it’s not—let’s shed light on the common players: