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Home > Pre-Reg Pharmacist > Over-the-counter (OTC) Drug Abuse

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Over-the-counter (OTC) Drug Abuse

The table below lists some over-the-counter medicines that may be prone to misuse

OTC medicine category Active ingredient Example of some brand names containing these active ingredients
Opioid analgesics Dihydrocodeine, codeine Solpadeine Max, Nurofen Plus, Syndol, Paramol
Laxatives Senna, bisacodyl Dulcolax tablets/suppositories, Senokot,
Stimulants Caffeine Pro-Plus, Panadol Extra
Antihistamines Chlorphenamine, diphenhydramine, promethazine Piriton, Nytol, Sominex
Cough / cold preparations Dextromethorphan, pholcodine, pseudoephedrine, ephedrine Sudafed Decongestant, Day Nurse, Benylin Dry Coughs (Original), Do-Do Chesteze

Possible warning signs and symptoms of OTC abuse:

  • Requesting large quantities
  • Excessively frequent requests
  • Theft from the pharmacy to prevent suspicion
  • Appears uncomfortable / hostile when answering questions
  • Becoming impatient / angry very quickly
  • Displaying possible signs and symptoms of OTC drug abuse e.g. patient is underweight and requests laxatives


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