Decode Over-the-Counter Medication Labels

Going to the drugstore in search of a medication designed for a specific set of symptoms can be daunting. With so many options out there, some claiming to provide ‘all-day’ relief, others touting ‘extra strength’, it can become confusing. Physicians can be the first line of defense for patients looking to decode these medication labels, in order to find the most appropriate OTC drug in the safest dosage.

Consumer Reports recently released the article, “What Over-the-Counter Drug Labels Really Mean.” In it, they highlight certain terms like, ‘all-day,’ ‘non-drowsy,’ ultra strength,’ ‘PM,’ and others which can, at first glance, provide the type of symptom relief one is looking for. However, with different drug combinations and dosaging in each medication, the consumer may need more assistance in understanding which drug to take. “Knowing exactly what ingredients—and how much—each pill contains can keep you from taking the wrong medicine for your symptoms or even from an accidental overdose.”

To be sure which medication is appropriate, consumers should check with the pharmacist, or better yet, their physician. A physician not only has the understanding of the drugs used in each medication, but also a detailed medical history of the patient, which can be used to crosscheck possible drug interactions, contraindications, and/or allergies.

For more information about the specific terminology used on the labels of OTC medications and what they could mean with regard to the efficacy and dosage of a particular drug, you can visit

The subject matter for this post was highlighted by AWARxE and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Information for this blog post has been sourced from Consumer Reports. For more information about Consumer Reports and NABP, please visit and, respectively.

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