Patients Should Consult Pharmacy Staff Before Taking OTC Medication

SAP Partners | Pharmacy Technicians | <b>American Association of Pharmacy Technicians™</b>

Logan Franck, PharmD, BCACP, a clinical associate professor in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, discuses his American Association of Pharmacy Technicians session on over-the-counter medications.

Logan Franck, PharmD, BCACP, a clinical associate professor in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, discuses his American Association of Pharmacy Technicians session on over-the-counter medications.

Q: What are some considerations for pharmacy technicians when counseling patients on OTC medications?

First and foremost, I'd say ensure that pharmacy technicians are not actually making recommendations straight to a patient. There should always be a discussion with the pharmacist that's there that day. I will admit that pharmacy technicians oftentimes do have a lot of those answers in and can provide a lot of those recommendations, but there might be a little nuance or something small that gets missed that could create a little bit of liability issue.

Running everything by a pharmacist and making sure a pharmacist signs off on that would be better care for our patients. Ultimately, just keeping that decision making to the pharmacist that's been studying this drug interactions and drug nuances for many years.

Q: Why is it important for patients to seek counseling from pharmacy staff on the concurrent use of OTC medications with prescription medications?

Logan Franck: This is kind of a hot topic right now. It's something that often gets missed. It's known that a lot of patients think that anything that's over-the-counter is good to take, doesn't have side effects, it's very safe, and it works. That's just not the case.

Each over-the counter-medication, just like prescription medications, have drug interactions or side effects from taking it. A good example of that is acetaminophen, or Tylenol, is in about every medication over-the-counter, any combination product. It does work well with reducing fever and reducing mild pain, but if we take too much, we can cause liver damage. Keeping that in mind and letting patients come to you and ask questions, instead of simply grabbing things over-the-counter will be beneficial to them, let alone the concept of drug interactions.

Medications over-the-counter do the same thing they interact with prescription medications. Pharmacist will benefit from knowing what medications the patients already on that will also tell them kind of what disease states they have, and ultimately, be able to make better informed decisions of possible safety hazards.

Q: For those not in attendance for your presentations, what are some of the key takeaways you would like to highlight?

Logan Franck: The 3 takeaway points, I would say, first and foremost, like you just heard, combination products are not your friend. Over-the-counter medications have a lot of different things in them, but you should pick products that only have 1 single ingredient in it, and hopefully that single ingredient is all you need to treat a certain symptom or the reason that you're taking the medication.

Number 2 is generics are just as good as brand name medications. So do the patient a favor, recommend and point them to in the direction of the generic instead of the brand name. Just save them some money.

Last one, discuss all recommendations with pharmacist. Make sure that they sign off on what's going on and they keep in consideration that safety of that patient.