FDA Consumer Guide on the Use of Pain Killers

By: Pharma Tips | Views: 4220 | Date: 24-Jul-2011

21 Dec 2010 Pain medicines are the most commonly used medicines in the market today. Right from headache to tooth ache, stomach ache to muscle pain to pain from surgery, an injury, or an illness, pain medications are used. These are referred as analgesics in medical terminology and pain killers in day to day terms.

21 Dec 2010 Pain medicines are the most commonly used medicines in the market today. Right from headache to tooth ache, stomach ache to muscle pain to pain from surgery, an injury, or an illness, pain medications are used. These are referred as analgesics in medical terminology and pain killers in day to day terms. Pain relieving medicines are available in the form of tablets, syrups, creams, lotions and injections and they are available by prescription or over-the-counter (OTC). These medicines are widely used to treat all sorts of physical painâ €”including chronic pain due to cancer and sudden trauma. It is to be noted that pain killing medicines are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Types of Pain Killers
OTC Medications: They can be purchased in the chemist shops without doctor's prescriptions. They are used to relieve the minor aches and pains like fever, colds, flu, headaches, arthritis, toothaches, and menstrual cramps. OTC pain medications are of two types: acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Acetaminophen is an active ingredient found in pain relievers, cough suppressants, and cold medications while NSAIDs are used to relieve fever and minor aches and pains. Common pain killers are aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen etc.

Prescription Medications: These include opioids and non-opioid medications. Opioid drugs are derived from opium and act by attaching to a specific "receptor" in the brain, gastrointestinal tract and spinal cord. These include morphine (used before and after surgical procedures), oxycodone (used for moderate to severe pain), codeine (used for mild to moderate pain) and hydrocodone (used for moderate to moderately severe pain). FDA has recently notified makers of certain opioid drugs that these medicines must have a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) to make sure that the benefits continue to outweigh the risks. FDA has authority to require REMS under the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007. Types of non-opioid pain medications include ibuprofen and diclofenac, which is used for mild to moderate pain.

Use as Directed
Pain killers are always effective and safe if you consume or apply them as directed. But if you misuse these drugs, they can be extremely harmful and even deadly. Follow you health care professional's or pharmacist's instructions carefully. Use the medicine as per the measuring spoon or cup provided with your medicine. Do not change the dose of your medicine on your own. And never share your medicines with anyone else.

Few points to Remember
With acetaminophen
•    Do not ever think that if you take a higher dose, you will be quickly relieved. Infact it is more dangerous.
•    It can lead to liver damage and death if too much is consumed.
•    Liver damage risk is increased more in people who drink three or more alcoholic beverages a day while using these medicines.

With NSAIDs
•    Too much can cause stomach bleeding.
•    Can also cause kidney damage.

With opioids
•    Can lead to drowsiness. Do not drive while taking this medicine.

Know the Active Ingredients
You need to be more careful when you purchase pain medicines over the counter. There are certain pain killers who are sold for different uses but they have the same active ingredients. A headache remedy may have the same active ingredient as the cold and cough remedy. So clearly check with your pharmacist. To minimize the risks of an accidental overdose, you should avoid taking multiple medicines with the same active ingredient at the same time. All OTC medicines have all of their active ingredients listed on the package. The active ingredients are listed on the container label in case of prescription drugs.

Misuse and Abuse

They can be extremely dangerous if misused. This is especially so in regard to opioids. They can cause addiction. Abusers use these drugs orally, and also crush the tablets in order to inject or snort them. Commonly abused opioid pain medicines include prescription drugs like codeine, Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Demerol.

How to Use Opioids Safely?
•    Let your doctor be always informed of your past medical history. The doctor has to keep an eye to the patient so that he or she is not
     becoming addicted to opioid. There should not be any signs of abuse and addiction when these analgesics are no longer needed.
•    Follow directions carefully.
•    Reduce the risk of drug interactions. Don't mix opioids with antihistamines, alcohol, or benzodiazepines.
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