That list was handy. When I was working at a busier pharmacy, my wife wasn't always able to contact me to check on the safety of a medication. She would look at the list and know if the medication was safe or not.
Let's fast forward to today. A few weeks ago, I had a young mom-to-be stop by the pharmacy because she was not able to locate a particular over-the-counter medication. She had a sheet of paper that had a list of acceptable products.
The list was almost identical to the list my wife had fifteen years ago.
And even better, the list wasn't printed from a Microsoft Word document. It was a photocopy of a typewritten list that was probably made in the early 90s.
Maybe it's just me, but I would hope that an obstetrician would update the handouts that they provide to expectant mothers. Seems like good patient care.
Several items on the list were brand name products. Of items that have been either discontinued or reformulated over the years. So it falls on me, the pharmacist, to determine what is safe for the patient. Which is part of the job, and is fine with me. But have you ever paid attention to the looks that you get when you say that the doctor is providing the patient with outdated information?
A lot of it is based on brand recognition. The manufacturers have sold the physicians and public on the idea that ABC Sinus tablets are far superior to the store brand. But this presents a problem when ABC manufacturer changes the formula of the medication. What used to be safe for use in pregnancy may now have a couple pregnancy category C ingredients, but it's still on the OB/GYN's list.
As pharmacists, we need to educate the public about the active ingredients that are in a product. General terms on a brand-name product label like congestion, sinus, and allergy mean different things to different people. I can't tell you how many people buy the store-brand syrup for cough and congestion when they really need something for cough and sinus congestion.
Personally, I would rather take several single ingredient medications than a three-in-one product. I want to treat the specific symptoms that I have. No need to try to kill a fly with a sledgehammer and suffer unnecessary side effects from unneeded medications.
In my cabinet at home, you will find the following OTC medications:
- diphenhydramine solution and capsules
- chlorpheniramine tablets
- ibuprofen tablets and suspension
- acetaminophen tablets and suspension
- pseudoephedrine tablets
- cetirizine tablets and syrup
But back to the OB/GYN list. Just give the women a list of active ingredients that are safe for use in pregnancy. Tell the women that if the product they are selecting has anything other than what is specifically mentioned on the list, it is not safe. Stop with the brand-name references.