Friday, July 03, 2009

A Tiny Dose of Poison! Part 2

Remember, strychnine was a drug taken in critically small increments as a stimulant, laxative and for stomach ailments. Give thanks, that safer alternatives led to the demise of strychnine in the practice of pharmacy!

Because of almost daily media attention to medications, i.e, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Michael Jackson's apparent abuse of multiple prescription drugs, I decided to provide additional ideas on how to self-educate yourself about your medications, independent of, or for discussions with, your physician, pharmacist or other medical personnel.

Information on researching Internet for your medications. Almost every prescription drug has its on web page, either by name or by manufacturer.

Some sites will asked you if you are a patient or professional. If you want to read the professional info [the insert provided to professionals in each unit of medication] , simply answer professional--pose as pharmacist, nurse, physician. I have yet to be asked for proof.

For most persons, read the patient literature first, then the professional literature, if desired.

The professional literature gives test percentages for occurrences of common side effects, detailed information of drug interactions, and appropriate doses for various age groups. Keep a dictionary handy, but don't worry about all the strange words. Mainly look at Uses, Drug Interactions, Side Effects, Dosage, Precautions sections.

Cipro , an older antibiotic, has a 16 page information sheet included with every unit shipped. Click this link, Updated Cipro tablet and oral suspension and prescribing information in box entitled Important Cipro® Safety Information for US Healthcare Professionals and Patients. [Adobe reader is required; if link doesn't work, clink on Cipro link to go to home page.]

NOTE: the Black Label Warning on first page. This is the FDA's attempt to emphasize a warning a level above usual warnings in the text. There is no medication with at least one warning--a tiny dose of poison! <:~D)

One caution in reading medication literature: Do not assume that you have every disease or side effect! Be informed, forewarned, but not alarmed.

Gone are the old days when physicians and pharmacists withheld information from patients. I never understood this concept, unless it information voided mystical, curative nature of medicine--maybe a holdover from the days of witchcraft and potions!

As a side note: if visiting the French Quarter in New Orleans, do not miss the Pharmacy Museum. The museum is a mystical, mysterious haven of curative potions and drugs used in the 1800s pharmacy practice and also antiques , like a marble soda fountain, globes, filtration devices, compounding mortars and pestles, and despicable leeches--YUCK!

For those considered in the geriatric group, there is an interesting editorial, THE PATIENTS DOCTORS DON'T KNOW, in the NEW YORK TIMES.

Talk about scary! Have you ever scanned the Physicians section of the Yellow Pages for "Geriatrics" specialty?


Renie Burghardt said...

Carol Ann,

One of the reasons I have refused to take diabetes drugs is because of the danger drugs can pose. People can take it for some time, then the study comes out that it may have helped control your ailment, but it was wreacking havoc with your pancreas or liver or something. As long as I can control it without drugs or insulin, I will try to do so.

Thanks for the link. I guess I fall into the geriatric group, although I don't consider myself old at all! Ha!

Have a great 4th of July!


Arkansas Patti said...

Very interesting and informative piece. I always avoided the professional segments for I knew they would be over my head.
When I was pre school,I had bad nightmares and episodes of sleep walking. A doctor prescribed arsenic in very minute doses which terrified my mother but did the trick.
You are right, all meds are small doses of poison that we often need.

Silver said...

Isn't it sometimes a scary thought how easily accessible one can actually get their hands on poisons??