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Over the Counter Medicines

Over-the-counter Medications – Can Be Purchased Without a Prescription

The appearance of over-the-counter medications has been a very efficient way to save time and costs in the healthcare system, however, it requires responsible consumption by patients.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are those drugs that can be purchased without the need for a prescription.

What are medications without a prescription?

There are certain drugs, normally of widespread use, that are sold without the need of having a medical prescription. These medications are considered safe enough for the population and a medical review and a subsequent prescription are not considered necessary for the affected person to acquire them.

The free sale of medicines arose in order to achieve greater savings, both in terms of time and money, when diagnosing and treating a patient. So that, with minor conditions, the affected person can quickly dispose of the products intended to treat their symptoms.

The advantages offered by this system are very clear, it is a way to decongest the health system, because with over-the-counter medications, minor symptoms can be treated and treated, reserving the medical consultation for serious diseases.

However, even if it is about over-the-counter medicines available in any pharmacy, parapharmacy or even supermarket, we must not forget that we are acquiring drugs,  their consumption must be consistent and responsible.


Pregnant woman.

First, although over-the-counter medications are considered safe for the population, we must not forget that like all drugs, they involve certain risks.

No medication is completely free of causing side effects, interfering with any other type of substance or even causing allergic reactions. Regarding side effects, it is especially important to monitor the use of over-the-counter medications in the case of pregnant women or children.

Therefore, although over-the-counter drugs are a great help in relieving certain symptoms or curing minor illnesses, without the need to go to a medical consultation, it is of vital importance to carry out a responsible consumption of them, taking always a total knowledge of what kind of medication we are taking.

On the other hand, the correct choice of medication comes from the hand of the affected person  and their own self-diagnosis , this implies possible errors when choosing the appropriate treatment, therefore, here we will summarize a few tips when choosing a medication without a prescription.

How to choose the right medication?

Choose the right medication

When deciding what type of over-the-counter medication to take, set of guidelines should be considered :

  • Read the leaflet carefully, paying special attention to the recommended dose, to possible adverse effects and to cases in which the use of the medicine is contraindicated.
  • Do not consume the medication for longer than stipulated in the package leaflet.
  • Consult with the pharmacist aspects such as the recommended dose, the possible adverse effects and the specific symptomatology that is suffered, in order to decide better what type of medication to take.
  • Pay special attention in the case of being allergic to any type of compound, making sure that the chosen drug does not contain it.

How to read a prospect?

How to read a prospect

All drugs, whether over-the-counter or not, must be accompanied by a prospectus detailing their risks and benefits, as well as all the information related to the active principle and mechanism of action of the compound. The parts of which a prospectus consists are:

  • Active principle: this includes the generic name of the drug and the amount of product included in each box. It must be borne in mind that there may be medicines with different commercial names for the same active ingredient.
  • Uses : it is specified for what type of symptomatology or condition the use of the medicine in question is recommended.
  • Warnings: this includes aspects such as in which situations the doctor or pharmacist should be consulted, in which cases the drug is not recommended and specific warnings, for example, for pregnant women.
  • How to use: specify the dose and time that the medication should be taken.
  • Inactive components: here it is detailed that other compounds carry the drug in addition to the active principle. The inactive components of a drug can have various functions, for example, giving the drug a particular substance or flavor.

In short, we can say that the implementation of the system of free sale of drugs has brought great benefits to society by being able to treat minor symptoms easily and quickly. However, the correct use of these medicines rests with us, making us responsible for their reasonable consumption.

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