Archive for the ‘Over the Counter Meds’ Category

Service of Why Offer What You Can’t Deliver?

Thursday, February 1st, 2024

This package takes up little room. How can a drugstore run out?

We had our share of shortages during the pandemic. It’s a puzzle why some still exist. It’s also a mystery why a company that promotes a service isn’t prepared to immediately repair an obstacle preventing its delivery.

Nothing to Sneeze At

I was baffled that I couldn’t find pocketsize tissues in any of the drugstores near me and had to order some online. Given the gargantuan size of the OTC cold and cough meds market–$11.11 billion anticipated in the U.S. for this year according to statista.com—you’d think the stores would be prepared for dripping noses.

Those empty shelves are not a question of tight inventory control. Smart shoppers who want a holiday-related item like cute Valentine’s or Halloween decorations grab them fast these days or go without because retailers–smartly–don’t want to be stuck with leftovers. However, once the height of flu and cold season is past, we segway into allergy-related sneeze fests that keep Kleenex shoppers coming back for more.

Don’t Pass the Popcorn

I decided that Saturday was a perfect one to rent from Fios a movie I’ve been looking forward to seeing available on Demand. To navigate to Netflix on my Fios system I must first bypass Demand’s lively promotions for its movies for rent or purchase [see the photo below]. After countless attempts to download my choice and three quarters of an hour on the phone with Verizon I learned that the glitch had to be fixed internally. ETA of the repair? Monday at 9 PM. Three days?

I called Verizon when at 9 PM Monday I still got the “Oops.” I went through the rigamarole to finally reach a customer service person and was disconnected. My mood didn’t improve when I had to go through the entire thing again with no opportunity to skip the drill and type in the number of my ticket to get an update. The person I spoke with warned me not to call again until Friday to give them time to fix the glitch. It was repaired late Tuesday afternoon. I loved the movie which I watched Tuesday night: “The Holdovers.”

Are you surprised at what’s still missing from store shelves or how long it takes for a corporation to fix an error halting use of a revenue-generating service?

Service of Dodgy Supplement Manufacturers: Know What You’re Swallowing

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

I don’t always read labels and instructions on over the counter remedies. After dousing my poison ivy-inflamed arms and face with the tonic recommended by a pharmacist my husband asked, “Did you read the instructions?” I hadn’t and I was using it incorrectly. I just popped in my mouth an Airborne lozenge that belongs in a cup of water. With my label reading record, lucky I don’t take fancy supplements—just vitamins and calcium.

A surgeon, Sreek Cherukuri, in Sumathi Reddy’s Wall Street Journal article said “Avoid supplements marketed for sexual health, weight loss and muscle building, which are most frequently tainted with illegal ingredients.” He added “The majority of products are unproven. Even if they aren’t dangerous, they could be a waste of money.”

Reddy reported findings from JAMA Internal Medicine in “The Illegal Ingredients in Your Dietary Supplements.” Even after the FDA warned about experimental stimulants that increase blood pressure and heart rate that are not approved for use by humans in dietary stimulants, they remain in some. DMAA, oxilofrine, BMPEA and DMBA can cause heart attacks and strokes. “By 2017, researchers found DMAA in two supplements, oxilofrine in nine, BMPEA in one and DMBA, previously found in none, in four.”

Reddy wrote that no manufacturers were identified. “The researchers looked at nine weight-loss supplements, two sports supplements and one cognitive-function one and tested them for the stimulants in 2014 and 2017.”

An earlier California Department of Public Health study also published by JAMA analyzed FDA warnings between 2007 and 2016 mostly in sexual enhancement, weight loss and muscle building supplements, wrote Reddy. It “found that prescription-drug ingredients were in 776 dietary supplements, many even after the FDA issued public warnings about the products. There were 157 products containing more than one unapproved ingredient.” Reddy reported that “The analysis found that the FDA recalled the products less than half the time.”

FDA Spokesperson Jeremy Kahn wrote this in an email to Reddy: “The FDA is committed to doing everything within its resources and authorities to identify and remove unsafe products from the market, and we continue to work collaboratively with all of our stakeholders to help ensure that products marketed as dietary supplements are safe, well-manufactured and accurately labeled.” According to Kahn, “Even when the FDA issues a recall or takes enforcement action against a distributor, other distributors often continue to sell the recalled product, or distributors relabel products to evade detection.”

Pieter Cohen, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and general internist at Cambridge Health Alliance told Reddy: “Whatever the FDA is doing to try to eliminate these experimental stimulants from supplements is not working and consumers are going to continue to be exposed to this if the FDA doesn’t step up and become much more aggressive in its enforcement.”

Do you take supplements? Do you know what is in them? Were you aware that they are not vigorously regulated? Do you tell all your doctors about what you take as some might impact surgery and/or interact with prescribed drugs?

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