A nonprescription medicine—sometimes called an over-the-counter, or
OTC, medicine—is any drug that you can buy without a doctor's prescription. But
don't assume that all nonprescription drugs are safe for you. These drugs can
interact with other medicines and can sometimes cause serious health
problems. And if you take more than the normal or recommended amount, overdose may occur.
Some medicines should only be used by adults or older
children. Be sure to read the package instructions carefully, or ask a
pharmacist before giving any product to an infant or
young child. If you are pregnant, always check with your pharmacist or doctor
before using any nonprescription medicine, to make sure it is safe to use
The next time your doctor writes you a prescription, consider this: The
medication may not be approved for your specific condition or age group.
But you probably shouldn't call the medical board. The practice, called
"off-label" prescribing, is entirely legal and very common. More than one
in five outpatient prescriptions written in the U.S. are for off-label
"Off-label" means the medication is being used in a manner not specified in
the FDA's approved packaging label, or insert...
Carefully read the label of any nonprescription
drug you use, especially if you also take prescription medicines for other
health problems. Ask your pharmacist for help in finding a nonprescription drug
best suited to your needs. Use these
tips on how to avoid common
These drugs can be very helpful when used properly but can
cause serious problems if used incorrectly. The following tips will help you
use common nonprescription drugs wisely and safely. In some cases, you may find
that you don't need to take them at all.