Why should I tell the pharmacist the medicines I buy over the counter?

Pharmacists are trained to be drug experts and seek to provide valuable information about your current medications. It is important to provide the pharmacist with the list of all of the medications that you buy over the counter, because the pharmacist is able to perform a comprehensive and thorough evaluation of potential interactions that may exist or the potential for one drug to increase or decrease the action of another drug. Some of the over-the-counter drugs, such as certain herbals and supplements, are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administation (FDA), so it is important to not only inform your pharmacists about these drugs, but also your physician or other healthcare professional to determine the risks versus benefit of taking these drugs along with your prescription medications.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Consumers can unknowingly put themselves in harm's way when they mistakenly believe that because an over-the-counter medicine or dietary supplement doesn't require a prescription, it carries no risk. Nothing can be further than the truth. OTC remedies contain many powerful ingredients. Even seemingly harmless herbs such as ginkgo, and foods and beverages such as alcohol and grapefruit juice, can pose a danger when combined with certain prescription medications.

So how will you know a safe combo from a worrisome one? Sometimes a warning is listed on the label if there is a known problem or your pharmacist will include an informational insert with your prescription outlining what to avoid while taking this medication. Still, pharmacists and doctors are not always aware what OTC medications or supplements patients are taking, which would otherwise trigger an alert if it were known. Consumers that are not forthcoming about all the medicines and supplements they take risk an adverse event, maybe even death.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.