10 Things to Know about Over the Counter Pain Relievers
Pain is the most common complaint among people who seek medical help, but still many of us shop the grocery store or discount store shelves for pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain medicine is big business. In the US, over 24 billion doses of acetaminophen (marketed under the brand name Tylenol®) were sold in 2008. There is a tendency to think that over-the-counter products can be used casually. After all, they’re sold right next to the shampoo and soap. Besides, the Food & Drug Administration—which regulates prescription drug advertising—does not regulate over-the-counter drugs. It leaves that work to the Federal Trade Commission. No wonder we think of these things as “products” rather than “drugs.” Few of us appreciate that over-the-counter pain remedies are powerful medicines with real side effects and potential risks. Time-pressed physicians and clinicians do not always have the time to educate consumers about over-the-counter pain relievers, and some of us assume that is because there is nothing we need to know. That’s actually not the case. Here are 10 important things to know about over-the-counter pain killers.