Dr Martin Henman, TCD School of Pharmacy, Launches Ireland’s First Household Medicines Reference Guide

Posted on: 14 June 2007

Edited by Dr Martin Henman of TCD’s School of Pharmacy, Know Your Medicine, is the only Irish over-the-counter (OTC) reference book on the non-prescription medicines. The guide contains photographs and detailed information on a wide range of non-prescription medicines designed for conditions ranging from pain relief to colds and flu, skin complaints and even maternity devices.

“It is important to remember that just because medicines are available without prescription doesn’t mean that they carry no risk if used carelessly or inappropriately.’ stated Dr Henman, ‘It is vital that the public always make an informed choice when they seek and use over-the-counter medication and this publication will help people do that,” he added.

The book contains an explanatory section in understandable non-medical terminology explaining the various types of condition for which non-prescription medicines are appropriate. Importantly, it also provides Irish readers with a list of the active ingredients contained in each medication and clear warnings about the potential dangers. These include:
–  possible interactions with other drugs
–  advice on everyday conditions such as asthma or high blood pressure where special precautions may be necessary because of possible adverse reactions
–  warnings on appropriate dosage, particularly for children
–  advice on side effects

A national survey was conducted by Lansdowne Market Research* to mark the launch of Know Your Medicine which revealed a potentially fatal knowledge gap amongst the Irish public on popular pharmaceutical products available without prescription.

Alarmingly, 48% of Irish people surveyed recently on the safe use of the common painkiller aspirin said they would give the medicine to a child under the age of 16. Because of the suspected association between aspirin and a rare, potentially fatal disorder known as Reyes Syndrome, the product should never be given to anyone that young.

Perhaps just as worryingly, more than one in four Irish people (26%) would take aspirin for stomach pain. In fact aspirin is potentially dangerous for people with such symptoms, as persistent stomach pain can frequently be related to ulcers. Numerous studies indicate that aspirin can cause ulcers to perforate, a serious development that will lead to emergency hospital admission.

Know your Medicine is published by Eireann Healthcare Publications, Ireland’s largest medical publishers and will retail for just €9.95 in pharmacies and Eason’s bookshops nationwide.

*Medicines Awareness Survey, prepared by Lansdowne Market Research, May, 2007

Dr martin henman, tcd school of pharmacy, launches ireland's first household medicines reference guide