Taking Medications at Home

 

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.

Since 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received 14 reports about over-the-counter (OTC) wart remover products catching fire during use. The cryogenic wart removers, which remove warts by freezing them off, are a mixture of liquid dimethyl ether and propane. These products are regulated by FDA and have a clear warning stating that they are flammable and should be kept away from fire, flames, heat sources, and cigarettes.

If you use the new anticoagulant (blood thinner) Pradaxa (dabigatran), take note. Recent publication of two studies suggests that a lower dose and a lab test may limit the drug’s major drawback: high rates of bleeding.

Consumers should also be aware of potential safety issues involving the phosphate content in Fleet enemas. This is especially true in elderly patients, who may use more than just one enema at a time and risk metabolic disorders and fatalities. When a Fleet enema is used, a second dose in quick succession to the first should not be used. Prolonged use or overuse can also lead to dehydration as well as fluid and electrolyte imbalances.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requiring a label update to warn of the risk of nerve damage from a very important class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. These are 6 commonly used antibiotics that include Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, Noroxin, Floxin and Factive. The warnings are for oral or injectable quinolones, not eye or ear drop formulations.

Most people consider their pets as part of the family. But just like you wouldn’t want to take another family member’s medicines by mistake, you don’t want to accidentally take your pet’s medicine either.  Who would ever make that mistake? You’d be surprised how often it happens.

Sixth grade marks the start of middle school for many American 11-year-olds. Research also indicates that it is the age that children begin to self-medicate. With that in mind, Scholastic and the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) have launched OTC Literacy, an educational campaign to raise awareness about over-the-counter medicine safety. The program is tailored to 6th graders and emphasizes that while OTC medicines are safe when used properly, it is critical to consult a parent or guardian before taking any medication.

Here’s advice about seemingly harmless over-the-counter eye drops, such as Visine and similar products containing the active ingredients tetrahydrozoline, oxymetazoline, or naphazoline. These drugs are quite dangerous if ingested. Severe side effects have been documented after swallowing as little as a half of teaspoonful.

Most people wouldn’t think twice about the potential for harm when applying over-the-counter creams, lotions, ointments, sprays or patches to the skin. However, we recently received a report about a patient who was hospitalized for burns after using an over-the-counter (OTC) cream for muscle pain. The patient, who was using ICY HOT Medicated Patches, sustained 2nddegree burns over the area of his chest where the patch had been placed. The size of the burn was reported to be 9 cm by 5.5 cm (about 3 ½ inches by 2 inches). Fortunately, the patient is now fine.

Companies often use color on products to capture attention or differentiate items. For instance, bright colors may draw your attention to a specific word or detail on a label. Companies also use color to distinguish different products within their brand.

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