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O-T-C medications not always safe

By Staff
Melissa Cason
It's so commonplace that you almost expect to see advertisements on television for dietary supplements and other over the counter medications to alleviate different aliments.
But, what the ads don't tell you is that just because it's an over the counter medicine, it doesn't mean it's for everyone.
Russellville pharmacist Carrie Pounders DeArman said approximately 50 customers come in per week asking about a vitamin, supplement or some other over the counter medication they saw in an ad.
"Just because it's over the counter, it doesn't mean its safe for everyone," she said.
DeArman said supplements and vitamins are not evaluated the same way prescription medications are evaluated.
"Prescription medications go through clinical trials where side effects and adverse reactions are studied and are known by the time they are approved by the FDA," DeArman said.
"There is a different process for the supplements and vitamins."
DeArman said supplements don't go through the same clinical trial process so all the side effects and adverse reactions aren't known.
DeArman said the quality of the supplement may not be known since the FDA doesn't evaluate them so it's a good idea to look for a supplement that has been approved by the United States Pharmacopeia.
"The high quality dietary supplements can be identified by the USP verification mark," DeArman said.
This mark is required of all prescription and over the counter drugs, but it's optional for supplements. Manufacturers that submit a product for testing, and meet USP standards are allowed to put the USP verified mark on their labeling.
"This mark means a supplement contains what it says it does, does not contain harmful contaminants, will break down in the body properly, and has been made under good manufacturing practices," DeArman said.
"Therefore, it's a good idea to look for this mark on the label."
DeArman said that patients taking medications regularly should consult their physician or pharmacists before taking the medications and discontinue if there are any negative side effects.