Drug misuse shouldn’t be unique to the opioid epidemic, suggests examine

Drug misuse shouldn’t be unique to the opioid epidemic, based on a latest West Virginia College examine. Yearly, about 50,000 folks in america are admitted to the emergency room attributable to misuse of a typical over-the-counter ache medicine – acetaminophen.

With that in thoughts, Mark Garofoli, director of experiential studying on the WVU Faculty of Pharmacy, spearheaded analysis that exposed that the general public’s information and perceptions of OTC ache meds is missing. In a survey of 1,174 West Virginians, 85% of respondents answered two-thirds of questions on OTC ache meds incorrectly.

Society wants extra schooling on over-the-counter ache drugs. The true problem is determining how, the place and when to supply the knowledge. As with most points, it is not considered as essential till it is staring one within the face whereas on a gurney in an ER.”


Mark Garofoli, Medical Assistant Professor, West Virginia College

Garofoli and his group posed inquiries to members on how they perceived OTC medicine, adopted by 9 fact-based questions on acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). Solely two of the 1,174 respondents answered all 9 questions accurately.

One query included, “What’s the largest quantity of OTC acetaminophen 500 mg tablets anybody can swallow in someday earlier than contacting a healthcare skilled?”

The reply is six.

That query reminds Garofoli of his time working at a seaside city pharmacy, the place a tall man in a cowboy hat requested him what he advisable for again ache.

“I requested, ‘Properly, what have you ever tried?’ The gentleman replied, ‘I attempted Tylenol and that ain’t value something.'”

Garofoli then requested him how a lot he took, to which the shopper responded, “Properly, 57 yesterday and 23 right now (as of 10 a.m. that day).”

“We then continued the dialog to debate simply how essential it was for him to obtain pressing medical care as a result of if he didn’t,” Garofoli mentioned, “inside a day or so he can be turning yellow, and in one other day, he would not have the ability to search mentioned care anymore.”

Unintended effects of OTC ache medicine, Garofoli famous, can embody upset abdomen, liver harm (from acetaminophen) and blood thinning and abdomen bleeding (from aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen).

One other regarding discovering revealed itself when members had been requested, “Whom do you ask questions relating to OTC ache medicine?” 46% mentioned “relations.”

“Though healthcare professionals are considered as natural sources of this data, concern can come up when folks rely on mere relations for this healthcare data,” Garofoli mentioned.

OTC use of ache medicine has probably exacerbated for the reason that COVID-19 pandemic as a result of lockdown of healthcare methods, staffing shortages and longer wait instances, Garofoli theorized. Due to this, he believes schooling and consciousness are extra very important than ever.

“Over-the-counter ache drugs are the needle within the haystack of an opioid disaster fueled primarily by needles stuffed with extra provocative substances,” he mentioned. “Simply because over-the-counter ache drugs are offered at greenback shops, grocery shops and flea markets all over the place, common security shouldn’t be implied.”

As for the seaside city pharmacy cowboy, Garofoli urged him to verify into the closest hospital. Just a few days later, the person got here again to the pharmacy.

“He got here as much as the counter saying, ‘Hey doc, I used to be informed to shake your hand. Apparently, you saved my life,'” Garofoli recalled. “After exchanging pleasantries, I mentioned, ‘Properly, now let’s speak about that again ache of yours.'”

The encounter would additionally set the stage for Garofoli to companion with West Virginia highschool college students fascinated with science on this analysis. After sharing the story of the seaside city cowboy with Well being Sciences colleagues Shafic Sraj and Ahmad Hanif, they agreed they wanted to compose a plan to stop these occurrences from taking place.

Garofoli received inspiration from a weekly Educating Students session when Cathy Morton, director of the Well being Sciences and Expertise Academy, spoke about offering alternatives for highschool college students within the realm of science and expertise. Garofoli and his group collaborated with HSTA college students, who screened the lay public for information relating to OTC ache drugs.

“COVID hit however our excessive schoolers persevered by pivoting to digital technique of analysis involving quite a few neighborhood members,” Garofoli mentioned.

The analysis was introduced at PAINWeek 2021, a convention for frontline practitioners treating acute and power ache.

“We, as healthcare professionals, want to coach the general public on the protected utilization of over-the-counter ache drugs,” Garofoli mentioned. “Legality and entry imply nothing to a chemical that’s already in a human physique. No matter whether or not a substance (medicine) is unlawful or authorized, requires a prescription or is offered at a greenback retailer, the substance could cause unbelievable aid or tragic devastation.”

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