Over-The-Counter Drug Use Concern

The above headline appeared in a May 3, 2007 article from the online BBC News. The article is an article based on a letter in the May 5, 2007 issue of the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ). The BBC article starts off with an ominous warning, "The dangers of becoming addicted to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are going unrecognized, doctors warn."

This article raises many questions regarding a growing problem and the lack of study done in this area. Dr. Chris Ford, one of the authors of the BMJ paper starts off by noting, "The development of dependency on over the counter (OTC) drugs is often forgotten." He also notes in his letter the lack of serious research into this growing serious issue. Dr. Ford writes, "A Medline search found no research into addiction to OTC drug dependence in the UK. Numerous websites are, however, documenting cases of addiction and offering support to those people trying to withdraw from these drugs."

In the BBC article, Dr. Ford restated his concern that this growing problem is going undetected. He states, "But our anxiety is that it's a problem which is not being picked up by the public or doctors, and that we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg." Dr. Ford continued, "But we have no idea how big the problem is because there has been no research to quantify it."

Several representatives of the drug companies who supply some of the OTC drugs questioned in the article state that these drugs come with warnings that if followed do not lead to addition.

The authors of the BMJ letter, Drs. Chris Ford and Beth Good are asking for more in-depth studies into this problem. In their paper they call for large scale research to assess and monitor the extent of the problem.