Over the Counter Medicines

 

Creams, ointments, gels, sprays, lotions and patches are medicines that will enter your body by penetrating through the skin and entering the bloodstream. They can cause side effects if you use too much of the medicine.

Durezol is a steroid eye drop prescribed to reduce swelling and pain after eye surgery. Unbelievably, there’s a wart remover with a very similar name called Durasal. The wart remover is a strong salicylic acid (26%) solution. Both products come in small applicator bottles. You can guess what can happen, especially since patients who undergo eye surgery often have difficulty reading medication labels.

Are you using eye drops to help relieve your sore eyes? If you overuse eye drops that contain decongestants (ingredients that shrink swollen blood vessels) such as naphazoline, tetrahydrozoline, or phenylephrine, it could lead to conjunctivitis--swollen, red, sore eyes with a liquid discharge. It could take weeks for this condition to clear up. Use your eye drops as directed on the label, or your red eyes may actually worsen.

In the March/April 2007 issue of our our consumer newsletter, Safe Medicine, we published a report about concerns with over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines given to children. At that time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) felt that OTC cough and cold medicines did not lessen symptoms in children younger than 2 years old.

Consumers who use dietary supplements such as vitamins have no way of knowing if the products they select meet certain quality manufacturing standards. They also have no way of knowing if they are dealing with reputable manufacturers. In response, a drug standards organization called the US Pharmacopeia (USP) established The Dietary Supplement Verification Program (DSVP).

A young woman developed temporary nerve damage 4 weeks after taking 500 mg of St. John's wort daily for mild depression. She began to feel pain on skin exposed to the sun. Her doctor told her to stop taking the herb. She did, and her symptoms slowly went away.

Kaopectate is a medicine used to stop diarrhea. It contains bismuth subsalicylate. This is the same ingredient found in Pepto-Bismol, another medicine used for diarrhea and upset stomach.

One in three Americans has taken herbal medicines in the past year to improve health. Annual purchases soar each year costing $5 billion in sales.1

Medicines labeled otic are for ears, not eyes. If you accidentally put ear drops into your eyes, you will quickly know that something is very wrong. Your eyes will burn and sting right away, and later you might notice redness, swelling, and blurred vision. In most cases, the injury to the eyes is temporary, but visual changes are always a real possibility if something irritating gets in the eyes.

You may have noticed that some familiar cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine are now kept behind the pharmacy counter. Pseudoephedrine ("soo-doe-eh-fed-reen") is a common ingredient in cold medicines such as Sudafed, Wal-Phed, CVS Nasal Decongestant, and others. This medicine is a decongestant. It shrinks the blood vessels in your nose which makes it easier to breathe.

Page 2 of 3

Medication Safety Alerts

FDA Safety Alerts

Show Your Support!

ISMP needs your help to continue our life saving work