Taking Medications at Home

 

The name of a unique inhaler device included in five different brand name medicines has led to multiple mix-ups, not only by consumers but by doctors, pharmacists, and nurses as well. In 2013, the global drug company, GlaxoSmithKline, introduced Ellipta, a new type of inhaler device. It is circular in shape, about the size of a hockey puck, and can combine several different medicines together. The company has packaged combinations of one, two, or three of the medicines listed below using this unique inhaler device:

Boric acid suppositories are sometimes used to treat chronic vaginal infections when traditional treatments have failed. Vaginal infections are typically treated with antibiotics, such as metronidazole. For some women, the infection comes back right away. When this happens, some doctors will recommend trying boric acid suppositories.

Caution is advised regarding labeling and packaging of acetaminophen liquid products now on store shelves at several leading chain pharmacies.

When you start a new medicine, you may get an upset stomach, feel tired, or get a rash. Is this an allergic reaction or just a side effect? It is important to understand the differences between allergies and side effects because they are handled very differently. Allergies can be serious and require immediate medical attention and avoidance of the medicine in the future. If you have side effects and your doctor thinks this is still the best medicine for you, steps can be taken to prevent the unintended side effects of the medicine. But you can still take the medicine.

Many people rely on prescription and/or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to treat an array of conditions. When traveling, either for business or leisure, that doesn’t change. So, if you will be traveling outside your home country, there is something important you need to know about medicines. The country you are traveling to may have the same brand name medicine available but it may actually contain a different ingredient that is used to treat a different condition.

Our organization, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), often receives medication error reports that result from confusion with drug names that look or sound alike. One look-alike and sound-alike pair that often results in confusion is hydrALAZINE and hydrOXYzine.

Methotrexate is a medicine used to treat certain types of cancer. Doctors also prescribe methotrexate to treat other conditions such as severe rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis (a skin condition). However, the dose and frequency of taking the medicine are different based on the condition being treated. For example, when used to treat cancer, methotrexate is often taken daily for 5 days or more at a higher dose. When used to treat rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis, methotrexate is usually taken just once or twice a week at a lower dose. People often begin by taking a single 7.5 mg tablet once a week, or three 2.5 mg tablets per week, each taken 12 hours apart. The doctor may increase the weekly dose up to about 20 mg if needed. But if you take methotrexate every day by accident, you could be harmed. There are reports of this type of error probably because most people are more familiar with medicines taken every day rather than once a week. Some of these errors have even resulted in death.

Medicines all have one generic name and perhaps one or more brand names. The brand name is chosen by the drug company. The generic name is assigned by an official body, the United States Adopted Names (USAN) Council. You probably know, for example, that Advil and Motrin are brand names for the generic medicine ibuprofen. Knowing that Advil, Motrin, and ibuprofen are all the same medicine alerts you to an important risk—that taking these medicines together could add up to an overdose.

Do you use an inhaler? If so, always replace its cap after use. The importance of replacing caps on inhalers was recently illustrated when a woman accidentally inhaled a small earring while using her asthma medicine. She got her uncapped inhaler from her purse. As she inhaled the medicine, she felt a painful scratch in her throat and started coughing blood. She was taken to the emergency department, where the earring was removed from her lung. If the inhaler's cap had been in place, the loose earring in her purse would not have gotten into the inhaler.

Those who take Pradaxa (dabigatran) capsules may not know they should be swallowed whole. The capsules should never be broken, chewed, or opened to take the medicine. Studies have shown that the medicine absorbs too fast if the capsules are opened, chewed, or broken. This can cause serious bleeding.

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