Over-the-counter (OTC) medications in a nutshell

Over-the-counter medicine (OTC) are medications that you can buy without a prescription. They are generally considered safe if you take them according to the directions provided on the label or by your healthcare provider. . Over-the-counter medicine is also known as nonprescription medicines.

Can you buy over-the-counter medicine online?

Yes, it is really easy to buy over-the-counter medicine online. While you can order any medicine online, prescription drugs need a prescription from a licensed physician.

However, you need to understand the following before using OTC products:

  • The medicine may interact with other substances or medicines
  • Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions. For instance, high blood pressure patients may not be able to take certain decongestants
  • Some individuals may be allergic to certain drugs
  • Many drugs may not be safe to use during pregnancy. Check with your health care provider before taking any OTC product if you are pregnant
  • Be careful while giving OTC products to kids. For liquid medicine, do not use a kitchen spoon. Instead, use a dosing cup or measuring spoon.

It is also essential to consult your doctor if the OTC medicine fails to manage the problem. In any case, do not take medicine in higher doses than what is recommended on the label. 

How to buy over the counter medicine with Pocketpills?

If you are looking to buy OTC medication online, Pocketpills can be your go-to destination. 

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All you need to do is create a profile and enter the medicine name you need to buy. And that is it. You will get the medicines delivered for free to your doorstep.

You can learn more about the process here. 

What are the most popular OTC medicines and why?

Some of the popular OTCs in Canada are:

These OTC medicines are popular because they are useful for treating common mild conditions. 

What medicine can you buy without a prescription?

You can get over-the-counter medicines such as those for pain, aches, or itches that do not require a prescription. Many OTC meds are also available to manage recurrent problems such as allergies and migraines. 

When you plan to buy or use an OTC product, it is essential to read its labelling. The label tells you:

  • What the medicine is supposed to do
  • How to use it
  • Who can use it
  • Who shouldn’t use it
  • Dosage
  • Usage and safety

With the introduction of “drug facts” labels, it is easier than ever to read and understand the labels. 

Health Canada regulates and monitors the OTC medications’ labelling to make sure they are safe and effective here in Canada. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for this. 

What is the best OTC pain killer?

The ‘best’ painkiller is one that is safe for your medical history and works well for the type of pain you need help managing. Your pharmacist can help recommend the best option for you. Some of the common OTC pain killers are: 

  • Acetaminophen: It is the most common medicine for pain and fever, especially in people who cannot tolerate anti-inflammatory medicines such as Aspirin. Acetaminophen works well for minor injuries and pain. It may be contraindicated in patients with cirrhosis, hepatitis, or other liver diseases. Some common brands include Tylenol and generic brands of acetaminophen.
  • Aspirin: It is a popular medicine used for generations in managing pain. Due to its anti-clotting properties, Aspirin can also be used to prevent a stroke or heart attack. It is not advisable in children below 14 years of age. 
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): They are used to manage inflammation and pain.  Healthcare professionals often recommend OTC ibuprofen available in the brand-name of Advil or Motrin to reduce inflammation and pain from minor injuries. They may also be useful for pain due to kidney stones and gallstones, where inflammation is the cause of pain. Other examples include Aleve and Naprosyn. NSAIDs may not be recommended for use in people with kidney disorders and a history of stomach or intestinal bleeding. They are also contraindicated in people using blood thinners such as clopidogrel. 
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What is the best OTC sore throat medicine?

In most cases, sore throats are caused by bacterial or viral infection. It is thus essential to treat them accordingly. However, the following OTC products may help in managing symptoms of sore throat:

  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen as a general pain reliever
  • Benzocaine (e.g., Cepachol lozenges) as a numbing agent 

Often, non-medicated over-the-counter remedies like cough drops or salt water gargles can be sufficient for soothing a sore throat. 

Is over the counter medicine covered by insurance?

No. Over-the-counter medicines are usually not covered by insurance.

What information should be included on OTC meds in Canada

According to Health Canada, the following information should appear on the label of an OTC product:

  • Brand name
  • Generic name
  • Manufacturer name and contact info
  • Expiration date
  • All active ingredients and the amount of each
  • How to take the medication

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