We can’t say it often enough: Be careful when self prescribing medication! A special review study carried out in December 2017 by an association of 60 million consumers aimed to investigate the benefits and risks of sixty drugs available over the counter. The results proved to be rather worrying.
Almost one in every two medications are ineffective or even dangerous
According to the results of the study carried out by the association looking at 62 over the counter medications:
- 45% of the medications are not favourable in terms of benefits/risk when self prescribed.
- 33% have a limited effectiveness or unproven, even if they are generally well tolerated.
- 21% are effective and are favourable in terms of the benefits/risk when self prescribed.
Among the 45% of the analysed medications available over the counter, cold medications like Actifed Cold and Nurofen Cold and Flu were the most dangerous for our health due to their composition. These medicines have 2 to 3 active components including a vasoconstrictor (blocked nose), antihistamine (runny nose) and paracetamol or ibuprofen (headache). This overdose can lead to serious undesirable effects (cardiovascular, neurological …)
Whenever possible, the study advises the public to avoid using over-the-counter medications for sore throats, coughs, flu or colds.
What are the effective medicines?
Out of the 62 medicines studied by the association and medical health professionals, 21% of the over the counter medicines were favourable in terms of benefits and risks. Vicks Vaporub, Gaviscon mint and Forlax 10 G were included in this list
The best solution when you are ill is to consult your doctor rather than risk self prescribing medication.
In Britain the most common forms of over the counter medicines are pain relief medicines. In 2016 the largest categories in terms of sales were pain relief (23.1%), cough, cold and sore throat (19.1%) and skin treatments (17.2%). Following recent scandals in the pharmaceutical industry there is the potential for more studies that look into the risks for consumers.