Medication Safety Articles

 

Infertility, not being able to have children, affects about 12% of women (aged 15 to 44) in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some companies claim their dietary supplements can help resolve infertility issues in these women. Many of these products are sold online. Dietary supplements are considered food, not drugs, and must be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But beware! FDA has NOT approved any dietary supplement for this purpose. Therefore, these products should not be marketed as treatments for infertility.

Some medicines taken for many years can lower the amount of some nutrients and vitamins in the body. By being aware of these long-term side effects, early action can be taken to prevent future health problems.

Imagine your dog or cat is sick, and you head to the veterinary clinic or animal hospital. The veterinarian prescribes medicine that you hope will make your pet better. But with pets, as with people, medicine errors can happen. In fact, there are many opportunities to make a mistake when a pet is treated with medicines. Errors can happen at the veterinary clinic when prescribing medicines or when dispensing the pet’s medicine. Mistakes can even happen in a pharmacy if prescriptions for pets are filled in the same pharmacies that serve human patients. Or errors can happen at home, when the pet owner gives their pet the medicine. 

A recent warning was issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to parents and caregivers about feeding infants homemade formula. Babies require adequate nutrients to help them grow and develop. The best source of these nutrients comes from human breastmilk. However, some families may not be able to, or may choose not to, breastfeed their baby; others may need to supplement breast feedings. In these situations, commercially available infant formula is best.

Consumers sometimes have allergies to certain medicines. In some cases, the allergy may not be related to the medicinal ingredient in the medicine. Instead, it may involve one of the other ingredients in the medicine, such as a preservative or a dye. These are called “nonmedicinal ingredients.”

A concerned veterinarian reported a potential risk with a medicine that is fatal to our furry family members, even after just licking their owners! The topical chemotherapy medicine, fluorouracil (CARAC, EFUDEX, FLUOROPLEX), is a cream or solution that is often used to treat skin disorders such as actinic keratosis or basal cell carcinoma. But it is extremely toxic to dogs and cats. Despite receiving emergency veterinary treatment after coming into contact with fluorouracil, the rate of death within 24 hours is high for dogs and cats. Even when small amounts of fluorouracil are eaten or licked, the dog or cat can build up high levels of ammonia in their body, which can be deadly. The problem happens when a pet licks the owner’s skin where the medicine has been applied or chews the fluorouracil container or tube of medicine. Soon after this, the pet may vomit, have diarrhea, start shaking (tremors), become unsteady and fall over, and have seizures. Currently, nothing can be done to stop the effects of fluorouracil once it has been licked or eaten (www.ismp.org/ext/574). Sadly, no warning label appears on fluorouracil products to alert pet owners about this risk. Please be sure to store fluorouracil products safely if pets (or children) are nearby, and to prevent dogs and cats from licking the owner’s skin if the cream or solution has been applied.

Ibuprofen is s an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine that parents might give their child to relieve minor aches and pains or reduce a fever. For children, it is available in chewable tablets (100 mg each) and an oral suspension (liquid). But parents may not be aware that there are two different concentrations of the oral suspension. Ibuprofen for infants contains 50 mg per 1.25 mL (40 mg per mL) and is often called “infant drops.” This medicine is for 6- to 23-month-old babies who weigh 12 to 23 pounds (5.5 to 10.5 kilograms [kg]). Babies may not be able to swallow a large amount of medicine. So, ibuprofen for infants is more concentrated than ibuprofen for children.

Some contact lens cleaning solutions contain hydrogen peroxide, which should never be used directly in the eye or as a rinsing solution for lenses. When these solutions are used as a cleaning and soaking agent, the lenses must be placed in a special lens case provided with the solution to neutralize the hydrogen peroxide gradually over 6 hours. The lenses can be safely placed back in the eyes only after soaking for 6 hours in the special case, not in a typical lens case. If the hydrogen peroxide is not neutralized, or if the solution is used only to rinse the lens or put directly in the eye, it will cause severe burning and pain. It may even result in severe eye injuries.

In October 2020, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gave permission to qualified pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns to administer childhood vaccines and the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. HHS determined that, during the COVID-19 public health emergency, pharmacies can help consumers access lifesaving vaccines, particularly in areas that have too few pediatricians and other primary healthcare providers.

Are you (or is someone you know) scheduled to have wisdom teeth removed? Pain after wisdom teeth removal is common, so dentists and oral surgeons may prescribe strong medicines that combine a common non-opioid pain medicine (such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin) with a stronger opioid pain medicine (such as codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone). Examples of such combination medicines are Lorcet Plus, Vicodin ES, Norco, Endocet, and Percocet, or generic equivalents of them. Opioids are effective in treating pain, but even short-term prescriptions can lead to dependence or addiction.

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