Over the Counter Medicines

 

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.

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.

One in three Americans uses herbal products to manage the symptoms of illness and improve health. In general, experts agree that herbal products are milder and safer than prescription drugs. But herbals act like medicines in the body. They can cause problems if too much is taken, if used too long, or if taken along with certain other medicines.

Acetaminophen is well known to consumers as a generic over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever and fever reducer. It has also received much public attention as a cause of liver damage when taking more than the recommended amount. To be safe, consumers need to look at the active ingredients in any medicine they are taking.

There is evidence that some patients (and perhaps even health professionals) may not recognize that FDA-required facts about over-the-counter (OTC) medications, including dosing information, are often on a peel-back label that is stuck to the bottle.

Page 2 of 3

Medication Safety Alerts

FDA Safety Alerts

Show Your Support!

ISMP needs your help to continue our life saving work