One of the frequent questions I've seen here and on other asthma websites is whether asthma can be safely treated with (cheaper) over the counter medicines. So, I thought I'd use this post to explore the answers to that question.
Before I get started, though, let's refresh your memory about a couple of asthma facts:
Asthma is very treatable. While asthma is a chronic, long-term illness that often can't be avoided in the first place, the good news is that it is fairly easily treatable in most cases. With the right treatment, people who have asthma should be able to live full, active lives without many -- or any -- limits.
The best treatment for the majority of people with asthma is a daily or twice daily inhaled steroid. Of course, no one medicine works best for everyone, but research has shown that inhaled steroids are generally the most effective asthma medicine. If they are used correctly, as prescribed, they should control your symptoms most of the time.
You've probably been hearing in the news that an FDA advisory panel has recommended lowering the maximum recommended dose of acetaminophen from 1,000 mg per dose to 650 mg. They also recommended lowering the maximum daily dose, which is currently 4 grams (4,000 mg). Although they didn't specify what the maximum daily dose should be lowered to, it would most likely be in the neighborhood of 2,600 mg per day. The reason the FDA is considering changing their recommendations is that acetaminophen overdose is currently the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S. What many news reports are not telling you, though, is that this same advisory panel, by a narrow margin, also recommended banning hydrocodone and oxycodone products like Vicodin and Percocet that contain acetaminophen. (Vicodin and its generic counterparts contain hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Percocet and its generic formulations contain oxycodone and acetaminophen.) According to a 2005 stu...
What exactly is a "black box" warning? Simply put, it's the strongest warning that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can require on a drug's packaging. The FDA requires the black box warning when studies suggest a drug can cause a serious or life-threatening side effect. The text of the warning is set apart from other information in a black box, so that doctors, pharmacists, and patients can easily see it. What did the FDA advisory panel recommend? The FDA itself hasn't made a decision about acetaminophen, but an FDA advisory panel has made 10 recommendations concerning the drug. Among those recommendations, the panel voted to remove acetaminophen-containing painkillers such as Vicodin, Tylenol 3, and Percocet from the nation's formularies. It also voted in favor of removing all acetaminophen-containing prescription drugs from the market. But the panel voted to keep over-the-counter (OTC) pills that combine acetaminophen and other ingredients, su...
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