The government is mandating easier to read labels on all over the counter drugs starting this May, hoping that more people will take the time to read the entire label before they take the medicine. This is because a new survey for the National Council on Patient Information and Education says most people don't know what's in the over the counter drugs they buy, and are likely to use them wrong.
The survey found that 33%, or 64-million consumers have taken more than the dose that's recommended, and that most take the next dose sooner than they should, thinking more is better. That more often will keep the problem at bay, but that's not how drugs work.
Instead, that can cause more trouble. Public health officials are kicking off a new TV and Internet campaign called Be Med-Wise to help educate the public about the right way to use over-the-counter drugs. The same goes for home test kits. Even simple errors can mean the test is inaccurate leaving the patient with the wrong idea about their health.
"If a step in the test calls for it to be done over a period of five minutes, use a timer. Get it exactly. This is not cooking spaghetti on the stove, this is your healthcare. and this is your life at stake her. So follow the directions exactly," says Patrick Treseler, M.D. a Pathologist.
In addition to using a timer, and reading the label carefully, the FDA says be sure to check the storage guidelines and expiration dates before using a home test kit, or storing it for later.
Americans buy more than five billion over-the-counter or non-prescription medicines each year. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association says it supports the education campaign, and that over-the-counter drugs are safe and effective when used as directed.
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