Magazine article Drug Topics

APhA, McNeil to R.Ph.S: Teach Patients about OTC Analgesics

Magazine article Drug Topics

APhA, McNeil to R.Ph.S: Teach Patients about OTC Analgesics

Article excerpt

Pharmacists should continue to educate patients about the importance of reading OTC pain reliever labels. This message will be hammered home again and again by the American Pharmaceutical Association and McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Ft. Washington, Pa., which makes Tylenol and Motrin IB. The pair recently joined forces to launch a three-year educational program, "Partnership for Self-Care" (Drug Topics, Nov. 16). To underscore this message, the APhA and McNeil hosted a media briefing at which three panelists discussed OTC pain relievers and their current role in the move to self-care. Janet Engle, Pharm.D., associate professor for academic affairs and clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice, University of Illinois at Chicago, emphasized the important roles the media and pharmacists can play in conveying the partnership's message to patients.

"It's incredible, the number of nonprescription pain relievers taken by Americans every year," she said. "A lot of patients don't treat nonprescription drugs as seriously as they do prescription drugs. There is a lot of information we [pharmacists] need to communicate to consumers. They need to start treating these drugs with respect."

Thirty-four new drugs have been made available over the counter since 1990, Engle told listeners. "In some cases, patients are self-treating diseases they could never self-treat before. Consumers now [have access to] many medications they may not be familiar with, and we need to get more information out there about these products."

Another panelist, Doug Hough, M.D., director, medical affairs, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, provided an update on OTC analgesics.

New guidelines and new uses for currently available OTC medications appear every day in medical publications, he said. "The important new news regarding some of the OTC analgesics includes the fact that the American Geriatrics Society published guidelines this year about acetaminophen as the drug of choice for patients over the age of 50 for aches and pains associated with muscular/skeletal problems. And the American Lung Association in 1997 published guidelines on acetaminophen as a first-line drug of choice for aches and pains associated with the flu." He pointed also to research by Daniel Kramer, M.D., Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston, linking the use of acetaminophen to the reduction in the risk of ovarian cancer. …

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