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OTC Medication

There are many over-the-counter (OTC) medications available without a prescription, which are used to treat the symptoms of many illnesses that don't usually require the help of a physician or health care practitioner. This article reviews a few of these medications that can help treat minor aches and pains, fever, diarrhea, cold symptoms, sore throat, and allergies.

OTC medications have brand names as well as generic and store brand names (similar to prescription medications). Generic, store, and brand names contain the same active ingredients and are identical in their action on the body if the concentration of the active ingredients are the same. Since some OTC pills and liquids contain multiple medications, it is important to read the fine print on the label to know exactly what ingredients are in the product.

Even though they do not require a prescription, OTC medications may cause significant side effects. Some can interact with prescription medications and cause harm, (for example, patients who take warfarin [Coumadin], a blood thinner, are at higher risk of bleeding from ulcers if they take OTC ibuprofen) while others products can cause organ damage if taken in amounts greater than recommended (for example, acetaminophen may cause liver failure; aspirin may cause lung and kidney damage).

So before taking any OTC medication or dietary supplement, read the label, especially the dosage, frequency, and precautions sections. If you have any questions or concerns in regard the use of any OTC medication or dietary supplement contact a medical health care practitioner or pharmacist for clarification.

In many countries, OTC drugs are selected by a regulatory agency to ensure that they are ingredients that are safe and effective when used without a physician's care. OTC drugs are usually regulated by active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), not final products. By regulating APIs instead of specific drug formulations, governments allow manufacturers freedom to formulate ingredients, or combinations of ingredients, into proprietary mixtures.

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