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WCM-Q cautions against abuse of OTC medications.

Tribune News Network Doha Strategies for preventing abuse of over-the-counter medications were explained at the latest instalment of Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar's (WCM-Q) Grand Rounds series. Dr Shane Pawluck, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy and practice at the College of Pharmacy, Qatar University, discussed which over-the-counter (OTC) medications have the greatest potential for abuse, the harms associated with OTC medication abuse and the ways healthcare professionals can intervene to prevent such abuse. Speaking before an audience of students and fellow healthcare professionals, Dr Pawluck said: "There is a movement, particularly in the West, towards deregulation of and increased access

to more OTC products, as well as for higher strengths of drugs, without the need for a prescription. Several research studies have proven that the public perceive OTC medications as generally safer than prescription medicines. This is one of the reasons for their abuse and misuse." Dr Pawluck described some commonly abused OTC medications, such as certain classes of cough suppressants, antihistamine drugs and decongestants. They are abused to obtain effects such as feelings of euphoria, stimulation or sedation. Harmful side-effects of taking more than the recommended dose of one commonly abused substance, dextromethorphan, include hyperthermia (overheating), excessive sweating, high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, visual and auditory disturbances, loss of muscle control, fatigue, psychosis, seizures and even coma. Dr Pawluck also explained that drug misuse, which is using a medication more frequently, in greater amounts or over a longer period than recommended, is distinct from abuse, which is intentional, non-therapeutic use of a drug for the purpose of achieving a psychological or physiological effect. He then discussed strategies for addressing the problem of OTC medication abuse, which include encouraging clinicians to talk to patients in detail about the use of OTC medications, encouraging safe disposal of medications after the ailment has been treated, better documentation of OTC use, and improving clinicians' knowledge of OTC abuse and of the available OTC abuse treatment/detox programmes.

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Publication:Qatar Tribune (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Dec 10, 2018
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