Greater vigilance needed on safety of over the counter drugs

September 27, 2001

Editorial: Monitoring the safety of over the counter drugs, BMJ Vol 323 pp 706-7

It is currently rare for pharmacists to record the details of patients to whom they sell over the counter medicines but an editorial in this week's BMJ argues that it would be in the public health interest for pharmacists to do so.

David Clark of the Department of Pharmacology, University of Otago, New Zealand and Layton and Saad Shakir of the Drug Safety Research Unit at Southampton argue that consumers believe that non-prescription medicines are safe because they are freely available over the counter. However, the trend to self medication and the switch from prescription only to pharmacy only status means that more and more powerful medications are becoming available over the counter.

These products are not always used correctly, so the use of over the counter medicines should be monitored and quantifed. The authors argue that spontaneous reporting of adverse reactions is inadequate and a more rigorous system of recording by pharmacists is now indicated.


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