Rx & OTC Medications
Drug and Alcohol Regulation Updates
Over-the-Counter Medications—Are They Safe?
Many OTCs were initially available by prescription, but have been reclassified as OTCs because the FDA determined these drugs were safe enough to be sold directly to consumers. This does not mean, however, that their use is risk free. In many cases, the dosage strengths and ingredients remained the same as their prescription counterparts. By increasing the accessibility to these medications, individuals are allowed to take a more active role in their health care. However, with this freedom to make important health care decisions comes a greater responsibility to become better informed about self-care.
To become better informed, you must read and understand the information on OTC labels. The FDA requires all OTCs to have information listed in the same order, arranged in an easy to read, consistent style with easy to understand words. OTC labels provide the following information:
Active Ingredients: The therapeutic
substance in the product and the amount of active ingredient per unit.
This is the chemical compound in the medicine that works with your body to
bring relief to your symptoms. It will always be the first item on the
label. If taking more than one medication, be sure to compare the active
ingredients to be sure you are not double dosing by getting the same
active ingredient in more than one medication.
Labels also provide the expiration date for the medicine. OTCs should never be used after the expiration date. Most manufacturers also provide a toll-free number to call if you have questions, comments or problems with the medication.
Be sure to read the label each time you purchase a product. Even though products from the same brand family may look alike, it doesn’t mean they are meant to treat the same conditions or include the same ingredients. Manufacturers or OTC medicines may also make changes to their products or labeling changing ingredients, changing dosages, and/or adding warnings. Likewise, competitors packaging is often designed to look like another brand and are placed on the shelf in close proximity making it easy to mistakenly select the wrong product. OTCs are also often offered in several strengths. Knowing exactly which active ingredients we need, what strength is appropriate (i.e., regular, extra-strength, maximum strength), and the mode of administration (i.e., tablets, capsules, gel caps, liquid) is confusing. Given so many choices, it is difficult to know what to take. If you need assistance, make sure you talk to a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.
Where to Find? .....
Conforming Products List
Non-evidential Testing Devices
Note: This list will be updated periodically.
The information presented on this page should be used to update Chapter 5 of the Implementation Guidelines.
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