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Ground Rules for using Prescription Drugs or OTC Medicines

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My mother has been receiving treatments for diabetes and high blood pressure for the past 19 years. Her medication included Zaart 50 tablets a brand name for the drug Losartan Potassium 50mg. In rare cases, it can cause kidney damage or worsen pre-existing kidney problems, especially if it is taken in high doses or for a long period. My mother is one of those rare cases. She has been taking Zaart 50 for a long period until it affected her kidneys. Hence her doctor had to replace Zaart 50 with Cilacar 5MG (A brand name for the drug called Cilnidipine). This blog post was inspired by that incident. In it, I am sharing four ground rules I follow when using prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs.

Note: I am not a doctor. The information provided in this post was acquired through research including interviews with medical professionals and results generated by ChatGPT.

Research the side effects before Using

I mentioned, in the beginning, my mother’s kidneys were affected after using Zaart 50 for many years. Hence, she has to take a monthly dose of “Erythropoietin Injection IP”. It works but not without causing hypertension. Likewise, many prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs have the potential to cause unwanted or unexpected side effects, ranging from mild to severe. The severity and likelihood of side effects can vary depending on several factors, including the type of drug, the dose, and the individual’s age, health, and other medical conditions.

Common side effects of drugs include nausea, headache, fatigue, skin rashes, and digestive problems. Some drugs can also cause more serious side effects, such as changes in heart rate or blood pressure, liver damage, or increased risk of certain types of cancer. If you are on long-term medication, see to it that you ask your doctor about the side effects of the drugs he prescribes or at least google it. Do the same in the event he prescribes a new drug or a drug already in the prescription is substituted.

It’s important to discuss the potential side effects of prescription or over-the-counter drugs with your doctor before starting treatment. He can help you understand the risks and benefits of taking the drug and will be able to monitor you for any side effects that may occur. If you experience any unusual symptoms while taking a prescription drug (or over-the-counter drugs for that matter), it’s crucial to see your doctor right away. Remember, you are responsible for your life and the well-being of your body.

Ensure that you have got the right Drugs

I once used to be highly dependent on Alermine (an over-the-counter drug) to help me sleep. It’s a tiny, white-coloured tablet weighing 4 milligrams and causes drowsiness as a side effect. I once ordered a blister pack of them over the counter and instead of tablets, I was given capsules. Upon examining the details on the back of the blister pack I realized the pharmacist had issued the wrong drugs. I immediately returned it to the pharmacist and she issued the correct blister pack of drugs.

If you are on long-term medication, make yourself familiar with the drugs you are using. Consider keeping pictures of the packaging, the actual tablets, or the capsules. Note the details on the back of the blister packs. So that you will know if the Pharmacist makes a mistake. Taking the wrong drugs in some cases can cause long-term health problems or even a lethal overdose. Nobody is perfect and even pharmacists are prone to human error despite training and experience. Therefore, ensure that you have got the right drugs.

Always insist on the blister-packed Drugs

I’ve always wondered how Pharmacists identify a particular drug. What if they misidentify a drug? Taking the wrong drugs can cause serious harm or even be fatal. In Sri Lanka, you get loose drugs very often and I do not see any markings on the drugs that can be used to identify them. At least not any markings that the patient could use to identify them. My research however revealed Pharmacists use several methods to identify drugs, including the methods mentioned below:

  • Physical characteristics: Size, shape, colour, and markings on the drugs can be used to identify them.
  • Imprint codes: Many drugs have a unique code or symbol on them that can be used to identify them.
  • Reference materials: Pharmacists have access to reference materials that list the characteristics of different drugs, including pictures of the drugs.
  • Drug identification apps: Pharmacists may use mobile apps that can identify drugs based on their physical characteristics, imprint codes or even images taken with a smartphone camera.
  • Laboratory testing: In some cases, a pharmacist may send a drug for laboratory testing to identify it.

It’s important to note that even with all these methods, misidentification of drugs can still happen. Taking the wrong drugs or taking them in the wrong way can cause dangerous side effects or interactions with other medications. In some cases, taking the wrong drugs can lead to an overdose or cause long-term health problems. Which is why I prefer blister-packed drugs over loose pills or capsules. The information on the blister pack significantly reduces the chances of misidentification and prevents potential medical hazards.

Don’t forget to check Your Prescription

Have you noticed that almost every physician prescribes Rapidene (A brand name for Codeine, not to be confused with Rapidin) or Panadeine? Prescribing Rapidene or Panadeine can be justified if the patient needs relief from pain but physicians often prescribe them even if the patient is not suffering from any pain. I recently saw a doctor to treat an external urine infection. While he examined me, I told him clearly that I don’t have any pain and I don’t need painkillers.

When I handed over the prescription to the Pharmacist, she assured me there are no painkillers in it. When I checked the bill, however, she had charged me for a blister pack of Rapidene. When I asked her what it was for she said it is a painkiller and in the prescription! Long story short I returned the Rapidene and got a refund. I don’t understand why some doctors would prescribe Rapidene when it’s not required but that’s not the point. My point is that Rapidene contains Codeine a type of opioid medication.

While opioids can be effective for pain relief, they also carry a significant risk of addiction, overdose, and other negative side effects. Therefore, not just Rapidene but why should you consume any drugs that are not required for recovery? Especially if you are on long-term medication. Therefore, see to it that you check your prescriptions carefully. It doesn’t take any effort to talk to your doctor or the pharmacist and learn the purpose of each drug in the prescription. At least google if you are not comfortable talking to them.

Wrap Up

This is not an affiliate article but I would like to conclude with two endorsements. If you can’t always buy drugs in blister packs consider ordering your prescriptions from Healthnet International Pvt Ltd. The drugs they supply always come in blister packs. Placing an order is as easy as installing their app, uploading a photograph of your prescription, and specifying for how long you need the drugs, and where you want them to deliver (Delivery charges apply) and the Healthnet team will do the rest. You can even link your credit card or debit card to the app so that you can make payments without leaving it. If you wish to buy offline and live near Kohuwala I recommend Winlanka Pharmacy. Their charges are cheaper.

If you found this content helpful, I kindly ask you to leave your feedback in the comments section below. Sharing it on social media would also be greatly appreciated. In order to promote meaningful and respectful dialogue, I request that you use your full name when commenting. Please note that any comments containing profanity, name-calling, or a disrespectful tone will be deleted. Thank you for your understanding and participation.

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