When it comes to medicines, you may already know how essential it is to exactly follow the instructions provided by your healthcare provider or directions on over-the-counter (OTC) Drug Facts labels. But you may be overlooking some habits or beliefs that can keep you from getting the full benefit of your medicines or cause you to risk your health and safety. See if any of these common medicine missteps apply to you.
In April, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first home-use naloxone auto-injector, Evzio (Figure 1), for people who accidentally overdose on an opioid (narcotic). The lifesaving auto-injector allows you or a family member to quickly inject the medicine to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose until emergency medical assistance is available. The medicine can be given to an adult or a child.
Many people are familiar with over-the-counter wart treatments. They're typically liquid based or are packaged in an aerosol container with a special application tip. But did you know there is also a wart remover that uses a dry formulation in the form of a stick? Within the last year a company called Balassa Laboratories has repackaged an old formula of a solid stick wart remover (previously packaged under the name PediFix). The newly packaged product, called WartSTICK, is now available at popular chain drugstores such as CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens on-line. Our concern? It looks identical to a container of lip balm. The active ingredient in WartSTICK is salicylic acid, which should NEVER come in contact with the lips or mucous membranes inside your mouth.
Many breastfeeding mothers who return to work utilize daycare providers to care for their breastfed babies. Those who want to exclusively breastfeed their babies will need to plan for the transition ahead. In some circumstances the mother can come into the daycare facility to breastfeed at arranged times. But many mothers do not have this option and will need to provide pumped breast milk to the daycare facility to feed the baby.
We recently heard from staff in an Emergency Department who called the fire department and Bomb Squad after hearing an unknown ticking sound from something inside their sharps container. Unbeknownst to them the source of the ticking sound was an Auvi-Q device (EPINEPHrine injection). AUVI-Q auto-injector is a device which uses digital voice instructions to "talk" people through the injection process. Once the injection iscomplete the user must replace the safety guard and the outer case. If the outer case is not replaced, the electronic voice speaker makes a "ticking" sound as the battery drains. If you or your child has the Auvi-Q device beware that the outer case needs to be replaced or the device will emit a ticking sound as the battery dies. We have notified the manufacturer about this ticking sound. An unknown ticking sound could be particularly alarming in settings such as hospitals, schools, and public transportation areas (buses, rails and airways).
If you take the prescription sleeping pill Lunesta (eszopiclone) or generics, you may need to take a lower dose according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A recent study found that the medicine may still be in the body in high enough amounts the morning after taking it to impair activities that require alertness, including driving.
Many types of insulin come in a pen device to make it easier to prepare and administer each dose. Although the pens hold numerous insulin doses, each pen is intended to be used by one person only. Even if the needle on the pen is changed, the pen can become contaminated with blood. After an injection, blood or other cells from the person can get inside the cartridge that holds the insulin. If the person has a serious disease such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B, or hepatitis C, it can be passed on to the next person who uses the pen.
It's important for women to be aware of an issue with the prescription product Angeliq, a hormone-based medicine used to relieve the symptoms of menopause. Unfortunately, we're aware of errors where it's been dispensed or prescribed improperly as an oral contraceptive.
Medication safety in the home is an important public health issue. Almost half of all Americans have taken at least one prescription medication in the last month and more than three-quarters have taken an over-the-counter (OTC) drug. Most of these medications are taken in the consumer's home or other residential or community setting. In these settings, the risk of medication errors is ever present as consumers with variable health literacy and unlicensed healthcare personnel undertake the complex processes associated with safe medication management.