A Tough Pill To Swallow

June 17, 2009

A Tough Pill To Swallow

Just because it’s over-the-counter doesn’t mean it doesn’t count

Recently I asked a patient “What medicines do you take?” She replied “nothing.” Upon further interviewing her it came to light that she was taking an over the counter multi-vitamin and an herbal supplement she had bought at GNC. When I asked her why she didn’t tell me about these things when I first asked she said, “because, they were not prescribed by a doctor.”

The FDA has the same thought; it doesn’t regulate the OTC medicines, vitamins or herbal supplements to the same degree as a prescription drug. Some products are considered “dietary supplements” and are not regulated as stringent as a prescription drug. Why is this important? Two reasons: first, even FDA approved prescription drugs can have a downside i.e.…vioxx the cox-2 inhibitor, and second, a persons perception of the “medicines” they take can be detrimental (What you don’t know can an will hurt you).

What is my point? First, tell your doctor everything that you take that could be a medicine because many OTC supplements can have harmful interactions with prescription medicines. Second, don’t be fooled by the allure of being “natural”. Too many people think that the pharmaceutical companies are evil and the best medicine for their body is the natural stuff. Please, trust your doctor. We have taken an oath to help our patients, not to hurt you. Even if you think that the pharmaceutical companies are making bad drugs remember they are being controlled more stringently than the companies that make the so-called “natural” stuff.

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