1. Why am I getting this drug?
Place the emphasis on the "I" when asking this question. Your doctor should consider your personal risk factors when prescribing a drug, not the previous patient he treated who may have been helped enormously by the medicine but also may have been far sicker to begin with. If you're considering a cholesterol-lowering statin, for instance, ask, "Has this drug been shown to prevent real clinical events like heart attacks or strokes in patients my age and gender with a cholesterol profile like mine?" says Jerry Avorn, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and author of Powerful Medicines. Ditto for bone-building drugs, which are being given more and more frequently to those with some bone loss, called osteopenia, but not full-blown osteoporosis. Ask, Avorn says, "Will this drug prevent fractures in those with bone measurements like I have?"
[More details on determining if you need drugs for bone loss.]