Misuse and abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications have been in the news recently. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning on Sept. 27, 2020 about the “Benadryl Challenge" of diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Our social media trends are incentivizing teens to take large doses of diphenhydramine for the purpose of developing a hallucinogenic effect. There have been reported severe heart problems, seizures, coma and death in some cases. Diphenhydramine, an anticholinergic drug and other (prescription only) drugs of the same class are also reported to be misused including dicyclomine, oxybutinin and others.
Misuse of Prescription-only Drugs
Albuterol (Salbutamol) has been misused by attempting to enhance athletic performance or promote weight loss. Other drugs being misused as “diet pills” including furosemide (Lasix), a diuretic commonly known as a “water pill” or levothyroxamine (Levothroid).
Bupropion (Wellbutin) is known as a “poor man’s cocaine” since high doses can give the individual a cocaine-like effect (euphoria) and costs less than $1 per tablet. Loperamide (Imodium) and vinlafaxine (Effexor) are also known to cause a euphoric effect in high doses in some individuals.
False Claims on Drug Package Labels
News reports about the false claims on the package labels of apoaequorin (Prevagen) raise questions about labeling other supplements promoted to enhance memory. Claims to improve memory and cognition stated on the label will be removed by the manufacturer and refunds will be made to some customers. There is no reliable evidence that the drug is effective for memory enhancement. Serious side effects such as strokes and seizures have been reported. In addition, Prevagen costs $40 per month.
Infrared Thermometers: These forehead thermometers are used for screening patients for Covid-19. They are easy to use, convenient, reliable and accurate when used properly. Consider a reading of 100.4° F indicates a fever. Available at pharmacies for less than $30. Always read the package insert and directions before use. Seek advice from your medical provider or your pharmacist.
My Advice: Keep your prescription and OTC drugs stored in a safe and secure location, away and unavailable to other members of your family and visitors.
Keith Miller, Pharm.D.