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Cold, Flu and Allergy Sufferers Can Select the Best Over-the-Counter Medications with Help from Pharmacists

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With cold and flu season still active and allergy season on its way, the American Pharmacists Association(APhA) encourages patients to actively seek their pharmacist's advice about the proper use of medications. Pharmacists are the most accessible health care provider and are available to help the public choose the best over-the-counter (OTC) medication for cold, flu and allergy symptoms.


As the medication experts, pharmacists are trained in prescription medications, over-the-counter products and dietary and herbal supplements, and can provide patients with important information about how those medications and products may interact with certain foods or one another. Pharmacists can help patients determine whether they are suffering from a cold, flu or allergies and select products that address their individual needs, or recommend a patient see a doctor or other health care provider when symptoms warrant. A pharmacist can also provide a patient and their family with a flu vaccination and, in many states, other immunizations that prevent the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Treating and preventing cold, flu and allergy-related symptoms are common inquiries for a pharmacist, especially at this time of year. The listing below highlights the #1 recommended products** from the 2011 Pharmacy Today Over-The-Counter Product Survey in the adult allergy, sinus and decongestant product categories.

  • Adult Antihistamines – Claritin (27% of 3,976 pharmacist recommendations)
  • Adult Antitussives - Dextromethorphan – Delsym (41% of 2,984 pharmacist recommendations)
  • Adult Cold-Liquid Products – Tylenol Cold Multi-Symptom (22% of 2,529 pharmacist recommendations)
  • Adult Decongestants – Sudafed (58% of 1,932 pharmacist recommendations)
  • Adult Expectorants – Mucinex/Mucinex D/Mucinex DM (70% of 1,645 pharmacist recommendations)
  • Adult Multisymptom Allergy and Hay Fever Products – Claritin-D (33% of 2,307 pharmacist recommendations)
  • Adult Multisymptom Cold or Flu Products – Mucinex D (30% of 2,177 pharmacist recommendations)
  • Adult Multisymptom Cold or Flu Products-Nighttime – NyQuil (30% of 1,234 pharmacist recommendations)
  • Adult Topical Decongestants – Afrin (64% of 1,372 pharmacist recommendations)

The 2011 Pharmacy Today Over-The-Counter Product Survey reveals pharmacists top OTC product picks in 77 categories. The survey was conducted in September 2011 and published in the February 2012 edition of Pharmacy Today. It was completed by over 1,400 practicing community pharmacists who are recipients of Pharmacy Today.

The annual survey tracks the OTC products that pharmacists are recommending to their patients as well as the interactions they are having with those patients. With more than 100,000 nonprescription medications on the market and more than 1,000 active ingredients, it's critical that patients consult their pharmacist to maximize the benefits from medications and minimize the potential for harmful drug interaction and/or side effects.

Optimizing Your Pharmacist's Over-The-Counter Medication Suggestions

  • Discuss the symptoms you are trying to treat, and the duration of those symptoms, with your pharmacist.
  • Provide the age and weight of the patient to your pharmacist. This is especially important with children's products or if you are caring for an elderly family member, as formulations may differ depending on weight.
  • Read product labeling, take the medication exactly as directed, learn of possible side effects, and ask your pharmacist what should be avoided while taking the medication.
  • Watch for duplicate ingredients. If you are taking or giving more than one OTC medication check the active ingredient(s) used in each medication to make sure you are not using more than one product with the same active ingredient.
  • Do not use a kitchen spoon to measure liquid medications. Obtain appropriate medication administration aids (i.e. droppers, syringes, spoons, etc.) and ask the pharmacist how to use them properly.
  • Don't give medications in the dark. Turn on the lights if your child or family member needs medication at night. Do not give medication to anyone who is not fully awake.
  • Follow good health practices to prevent the spread of contagious illnesses. Cover the mouth and nose during a cough or sneeze, avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth and wash the hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Remember, most OTC medications are for temporary relief of minor symptoms. Contact your pharmacist or health care provider if your condition persists or gets worse.

Pharmacists work with doctors and other health care providers to optimize care, improve medication use and to prevent disease. To achieve the best outcomes for their condition, patients should maintain regular visits with all of their health care providers. APhA encourages patients to fill all their prescriptions with one pharmacy, get to know their pharmacist on a first name basis, discuss their medications with their pharmacist, carry an up-to-date medication and vaccination list and share all medical information with each of their health care providers.

** Being a #1 recommended product in the Pharmacy Today OTC Product Survey does not indicate Pharmacy Today or APhA endorsement of any product or service.

About the American Pharmacists Association
The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, is a 501 (c)(6) organization, representing more than 62,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others interested in advancing the profession. APhA, dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care, is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States. For more information, visit

SOURCE American Pharmacists Association
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