Non-prescription and over-the-counter
Ephedrine, mahuang, ephedra
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Non-Prescription and Over-The-Counter Drugs
warnings on many previously-prescription drugs have been weakened. Over-the-counter
(OTC) drugs can be sold directly to consumers, with fewer warnings than
had previously been given to the doctors who used to prescribe these drugs.
No longer is the consumer protected by the doctor who acted as a "learned
Normally, drug manufacturers have NO DUTY to warn consumers of their drugs.
Instead, the duty is to warn the physician who prescribes the drug. However,
OTC drugs are another story. There, manufacturers ordinarily have a duty
to warn to consumer. This is especially important when the manufacturer
knows of risks connected with ingestion of the OTC drug and this information
is not likely to be known by the consumer.
When drugs are prescribed, a doctor will consult the Physicians' Desk
Reference for detailed information about the drug, its side effects, and
interactions with other drugs. In the PDR, the doctor can learn everything
necessary for the safe use of a drug. Comparison of this information,
for a drug such as Cimetidine (Tagamet), demonstrates that very little
is told to the consumer relative to what used to be told to the doctor.
None of the information concerning "adverse reactions" is contained on
the box for OTC Tagamet, while dozens are listed in the PDR.
Certain drugs can not be used in conjunction with other drugs. Thus, while
a patient may be on one OTC drug, prescription of a another drug may cause
harmful effects, and even death, when the two drugs are used together.
Thus, when taking drugs in combination, check with your physician AND
your pharmacist. They can review the PDR to make sure that you are not
taking a dangerous combination of drugs. This is especially true with
certain drugs like anti-depressants and also drugs for high blood pressure.
MOTIVE, COST SAVINGS
While OTC drugs certainly reduce the cost to consumers, they also provide
a huge incentive to drug manufactures to market the beneficial effects
and increase the demand and usage of their product.
This informational piece was prepared by Monheit, Silverman & Fodera. If you would like more information on this topic, call us at (800) 220-LAW1, or use the "Do I Have A Case?" button on this web site.
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