Script Your Future – Understanding OTC Medications

Script Your Future

Non-prescription (a.k.a. over-the-counter or OTC) medicines have become increasingly popular among Americans in recent years. In the past, OTC medications have been viewed as home remedies to treat aches, pains, and itching. What many people do not consider, however, is their ability to treat and even cure a variety of conditions. Some OTC products can prevent diseases like tooth decay, and even cure diseases like athlete’s foot. Along with a doctor and/or pharmacist’s guidance, some OTC products can be used to manage recurring conditions like yeast infections, migraines, and arthritis pain. It is important to fully discuss your plans on using OTC products with your doctor before trying a product on your own!

When a product is available to be purchased without doctor’s prescription, there are certain precautions you must take before selecting a product to fit your needs. As a whole, people are living longer, working longer, and becoming more active in their own healthcare, which means more people are becoming informed about the best self-care practices, including OTC use. The best way to ensure that you are purchasing a safe and effective product, is to read and understand the information on the OTC product label. Common terms found on OTC labels are defined below:

  • Active Ingredient(s) – the substance in the product which provides its therapeutic action
  • Inactive Ingredient(s) – substances like flavorings, binders, and colorings
  • Warnings – possible side effects; when not to use the product;  when to stop taking it; when to see a doctor
  • Purpose – the general category of the product (i.e. antacid, antihistamine, etc.)
  • Uses – the symptoms or disease the product is intended to treat/prevent
  • Directions – how to use the medication; what dose to take; how frequently to take it; and duration of treatment course

When it comes to medications, more does not always mean better. You should never misuse OTC medications by taking them longer or in higher doses than the label recommends. If you have any questions regarding how to use a product or how to read the label, do not hesitate to ask your pharmacist for help. If the symptoms you are trying to treat persist despite treatment, that is a clear signal to go see your doctor right away!

References: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/UnderstandingOver-the-CounterMedicines/Choosingtherightover-the-countermedicineOTCs/UCM150312.pdf

Script Your Future: Asthma & Medication Adherence

Script Your Future

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways. It affects persons of all ages, but is more common in children. Some of the common signs/symptoms associated with asthma are wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath especially on exertion, and coughing. Although there is no cure for asthma, there are steps you can take to keep this condition under control!

The best way to manage your asthma is to take your medications properly. The most commonly used medications in the treatment of asthma are a combination of long-term and quick-relief (aka “rescue”) medications. Although these medications can be taken in a pill or tablet form, they are commonly administered through devices called inhalers and/or nebulizers. These long-term inhalers are used to deliver inhaled corticosteroids (e.g. albuterol) into the airways for the purpose of reducing airway inflammation and prevent symptoms from ever occurring. Short-acting or “rescue” medications are used to provide fast relief when symptoms do occur.

An Asthma Action Plan is a great tool to use in helping you manage your asthma appropriately. These worksheets help you keep track of your asthma symptoms and medications all in one convenient place. These plans describe your daily asthma care plan including what treatments to take and when. Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to guide you in filling out the action plan and keep you on the right track. For all chronic conditions, asthma included, it is critical to take all of your medications as they are prescribed by your doctor!

For tips on how to use an inhaler or find a sample Asthma Action Plan, visit www.scriptyourfuture.org!

UCSOP Kicks off Script Your Future Medication Adherence Campaign

January 19, 2016 through March 18, 2016 an interdisciplinary student team from pharmacy, physicians assistant, and other health professions from the University of Charleston will kick off a series of community outreach activities through West Virginia to raise awareness about the health consequences of not taking medication as directed. They will join with health professions students across the country in the 2016 Medication Adherence Team Challenge, a two month-long inter-collegiate competition among health profession student teams and faculty for creating solutions to raise awareness about medication adherence as a critical public health issue. The Challenge, coordinated by the National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneer consumer group and the lead organization on the national Script Your Future campaign, is returning to university campuses across the country, this year for two months, after four years of successful student innovation.

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About the Challenge: The Challenge is part of Script Your Future, a campaign launched by the National Consumers League and partners in 2011 to combat the problem of poor medication adherence. In the United States, nearly three out of four patients do not take their medication as directed. The campaign focuses on three disease states—diabetes, cardiovascular, and respiratory. All of these disease states are among the leading causes of hospitalization in West Virginia.

“In 2013 and 2015 our students received national recognition from the National Consumers League for their efforts in educating West Virginians about the importance of medication adherence and managing chronic disease,” said Dr. Susan Gardner, UCSOP’s Assistant Dean for Professional and Student Affairs. “Our students are committed to educating the public and conducting medication adherence and disease management outreach activities that reach individuals in both urban and rural areas.”

Our 2016 Script Your Future Activities: Activities will be coordinated by pharmacy students including health fairs, educational outreach activities, and public service announcements on radio and television through West Virginia January 18-March 18, 2016. Pharmacy students, pre-pharmacy students, athletic training and physician assistant students will be partnering to deliver education and health screenings at various locations throughout the state. In addition, through a partnership with Fruth Pharmacy, mediation adherence information will be distributed with prescriptions at all Fruth locations during February 2016. For a comprehensive list of events CLICK HERE.

“There are many reasons why people don’t take their medicine as directed, but the consequences for patients are the same,” said Michelle Easton, Dean of the UC School of Pharmacy. “Nonadherence puts patients, especially those with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or asthma, at risk for serious complications.” Students, faculty and staff at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy are encouraging EVERYONE to take the pledge to take their medications as prescribed. Take the PLEDGE NOW!

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For more information about our Script Your Future Activities or to schedule an event at your location or with your organization, contact: Dr. Susan Gardner, 304-357-4879, susangardner@ucwv.edu.