Education: Over-the-Counter Medicine
Over-the-counter medicine is also known as OTC or nonprescription
medicine. All these terms refer to medicine that you can buy without
a prescription. They are safe and effective when you follow the
directions on the label and as directed by your health care
The following materials will help you, working with your health care
professionals, to choose and use over-the-counter medicine wisely.
To obtain printed copies of any of these materials, please email your request
by title to: email@example.com. You
can also call 301-796-3703 or 1-888-INFO-FDA.
The following links are text
documents. You can also view the graphic versions (if
available) by going to the "All
Graphics and Other Media" page.
Choosing the right over-the-counter
- "Over-the-Counter Medicines: What's Right for You?" This
pamphlet discusses the importance of reading the
Drug Facts label,
avoiding interactions, using OTCs while pregnant or nursing,
treating a child, and more. (Created in cooperation with the
Consumer Healthcare Products Association.)
- En Español "Medicamentos sin receta: ¿Cual es adecuado para usted?"
This pamphlet discusses the importance of reading the
Drug Facts label, avoiding interactions, using OTCs while pregnant or
nursing, treating a child, and more. (Created in cooperation
with the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.)
The Over-the-Counter Medicine Label
- "The New Over-the-Counter Medicine Label: Take a Look." This
brochure introduces you to the new and easier to understand
Drug Facts label. It includes the importance of reading and using the
label, and more. A detailed explanation of each section and a
sample of the label is featured.
Tips For Parents
Safe Use of Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers (analgesics) and Fever Reducers (antipyretics)
- "The best way to take your over-the-counter pain reliever? Seriously." This brochure explains what OTC pain relievers and fever reducers are and how to use them so they are safe and effective. It also discusses the dangers from using more than one over-the-counter medicine with the same active ingredient.
- "Use Caution With Pain Relievers." This FDA Consumer article, revised in November 2003, discusses the benefits and risks of using over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers. For reprints, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 301-796-3703 or 1-888-INFO-FDA.
- "Health Bulletin: Use Caution With Pain Relievers." This article is about acetaminophen, an active ingredient in many over-the-counter and prescription medicines to fight pain and fever. However, misusing this active ingredient can lead to a very serious injury.
- "Health Hints: Use Caution with Pain Relievers." This short article discusses the importance of knowing the active ingredients of and directions on all the over-the-counter medicine you use.
Safe Use of Daily Aspirin
For more information about over-the-counter medicine, please visit the "Division of Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drug Products" Web site at www.fda.gov/cder/Offices/OTC/default.htm
For more information about the use of medicine in children, please visit the "Pediatric Drug Development" Web site at www.fda.gov/cder/pediatric/index.htm and the "Office of Pediatric Therapeutics" Web site at www.fda.gov/oc/opt/default.htm
For more information about over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers, please visit "Safe Use of Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers (analgesics) and Fever Reducers (antipyretics)," at www.fda.gov/cder/drug/analgesics/default.htm, and "COX-2 Selective (includes Bextra, Celebrex, and Vioxx) and Non-Selective Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)" at www.fda.gov/cder/drug/infopage/cox2.
For more information on aspirin therapy, please visit "New Prescribed Uses of Aspirin: Questions and Answers," dated October 20, 1998, at www.fda.gov/cder/news/aspirin/aspirin_qa.htm.
For information about an interactive educational program about the safe and effective use of over-the-counter medicines, please visit the "Medicines in My Home" Web site at www.fda.gov/medsinmyhome.
All graphics and other media on Over-the-Counter Medicine
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Date created: November 3, 2004, updated July 25, 2008