December 15, 2006

Contact: Courtney Smith (505) 272-3690; Loretta Esquibel (505) 272-4261

Over-the-counter cold medications are readily available on grocery and drug store shelves and can be purchased without a doctor's prescription. The New Mexico Poison Center reminds consumers that over-the-counter medicines require the same precautions that are used with prescription medications.

Even commonly used over-the-counter (OTC) products like pain relievers and cough medicine can be harmful if misused, abused or if taken with other medications. Pain medications and cold and cough preparations are among the top substances involved in human poison exposures.

The New Mexico Poison Center offers the following recommendations for OTC medicine safety.

  • Keep all OTC products, including vitamins, locked-up where children cannot see them or reach them. Even a small amount of some non-prescription products can be dangerous to children. Adult strength iron supplements and products containing camphor or eucalyptus oils, for example, can be harmful and even life threatening to children if swallowed.
  • Read and follow product directions. If you do not understand the directions, call the product information phone number on the label or speak with your pharmacist or doctor.
  • Follow the recommended dosage. Doubling the recommended dose of a product will not make you feel twice as good and can even be harmful.
  • If you plan to take more than one OTC product, compare ingredients. People may take several remedies, unaware that each contains the maximum safe dosage of one ingredient.
  • Some prescription medications and OTC products don't mix. Don't guess-ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you or anyone in your household takes too much medicine or the wrong kind of medicine, call the New Mexico Poison Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222, 24-hours a day,seven days a week.