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Most People Uninformed About OTC Ingredients, Study Finds

05/04/11

  05:16:33 pm, by MedBen5   , 288 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Most People Uninformed About OTC Ingredients, Study Finds

A troubling study finds that many people are unaware of the active ingredients in over-the-counter pain relievers, Medical Express reports. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine researchers learned that only 31% of participants knew Tylenol contained acetaminophen, an analgesic that can be fatal if not taken properly. And just 41% said they take the time to read the ingredients on drug labels.

“People may unintentionally misuse these medicines to a point where they cause severe liver damage,” said senior study author Michael Wolf, an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern. “It’s easy to exceed the safe limit if people don’t realize how much acetaminophen they are taking. Unlike prescription products, there is no gatekeeper, no one monitoring how you take it.”

Acetaminophen is found in more than 600 OTC and prescription medicines. The study authors propose the creation of a universal icon for acetaminophen that would be required on all medication labels.

MedBen encourages its pharmacy plan members to take advantage of the RxEOB website. Available through MedBen Access to clients who use PDM for prescription management (check your ID card if you’re not sure), RxEOB offers a database featuring summary information for thousands of medications, including OTC pain relievers. Quoting from the Tylenol entry:

“Take this medication exactly as prescribed to lessen the risk of addiction. One ingredient in this product is acetaminophen. Taking too much acetaminophen may cause serious (possibly fatal) liver disease. Adults should not take more than 4 grams (4000 milligrams) of acetaminophen a day. If you have liver problems, consult your doctor or pharmacist for a safe dosage of this medication.”

RxEOB also offers information about severity levels for selected drug-to-drug interactions. Plan members with questions about RxEOB are welcome to call MedBen Customer Service at (800) 686-8425.

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