Over-the-Counter Medications: Making Them Work for You
Jeanie Monzingo, Summer Student Intern
and Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate
Southwestern Oklahoma State University
a headache is on the horizon or you feel a cold coming on,
the first thing you do is grab some medicine. Most of the
time, you'll reach for an over-the-counter (OTC) product.
It's easy to do - thousands of medicines are available OTC.
Products range from allergy remedies to cough syrups to
the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considered the prescription-to-OTC
switch of two cholesterol-lowering medicines. The switch
would allow consumers to buy the cholesterol-lowering medicines
without a prescription. The switch was not approved but
the hearings received a lot of attention.
Over 600 ingredients
or dosages that were previously "prescription-only" are
now available over-the-counter.3 Medicines available OTC
allow consumers to play a greater role in their own healthcare.
OTC medicines give consumers the freedom to choose cold
remedy X out of numerous options. However, many medicine-related
decisions are based on previous experience or the advice
of a friend or relative. While some of these recommendations
are safe, others are not.
are required to print important information about how to
take OTC medicines on the package. Information about side
effects of the medicine must also be included. But is this
printed information enough? Does it promise safety to you
and your family?
can serve as a decoder in a world full of medical jargon
and big words. Asking your pharmacist before making a medicine
purchase is one smart idea. Pharmacists have the education
and experience to help consumers make the best decisions
about medicines. These are some questions your pharmacist
Pharmacists are a gold mine
of knowledge. All you have to do is ask to tap into this
treasure. Pharmacists are the easiest health care providers
to find. There is one around the corner or just down the
street. They can help you make the best choices for you
and your family.
Using your pharmacist to help make important
OTC medicine choices is a positive step you can make to improve
your health and the health of your family.
1) Nordhaus-Bike, AM. "Quality Patrol. A fix for drug errors."
Hospital Health Network, 1997 Oct 5. Vol 71 Issue
2) Leape, LL; Cullen DJ, et
al. "Pharmacist participation on physician rounds and adverse
drug events in the intensive care unit." Journal of the
American Medical Association, 2000 Mar 8. Vol 282 Issue
3) Lipsky MS, Waters M. "The 'prescription-to-OTC
switch' movement. Its effects on antifungal vaginitis preparations."
Archives of Family Medicine, 1999 Jul-Aug. Vol 8 Issue
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