Over The Counter Antibiotics


Medicines or drugs which are sold directly to the customer ‘without a prescription’ from a qualified healthcare professional are known as Over The Counter Antibiotics or drus. In contrast, ‘prescription druhs are always sold after verifying the prescription’ froma  qualified healthcare professional.

Most countries have regulatory agemencies which select the ‘over the counter’ available drugsafter enduring these drugs are safe and effective when used without a physician’s care. OTC drugs are usually regulated by active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), not final products.  On the other hand, by regulating APIs instead of specific drug formulations, governments allow manufacturers freedom to formulate ingredients, or combinations of ingredients, into proprietary mixtures.[

Over The Counter AntibioticsAvailability & Display

In the pharmacies or druggists or chemists shops, over the counter drugs are often displayed on the shelves like any other packaged product. However, the prescription drugs are passed over the counter only after the healthcare professionals’ prescription is shown and verified. It may be noted that in many countries, a number of OTC drugs are available in establishments without a pharmacy, such as general stores, supermarkets, gas stations, etc. Regulations detailing the establishments where drugs may be sold, who is authorized to dispense them, and whether a prescription is required vary considerably from country to country.

Public approach: Switches between prescription and OTC

In usual practice and as a general rule, ‘over-the-counter antibiotics or drugs’ have to be used primarily to treat a condition that does not require the direct supervision of a doctor and must be proven to be reasonably safe and well tolerated. OTC drugs are usually also required to have little or no abuse potential, although in some areas drugs such as codeine are available OTC One of the oldest OTC drugs is aspirin.

Drugs that prove themselves over a considerable period of time, say 5-6 years, as safe and appropriate as prescription medicines, may be switched from prescription to OTC. An example of this is diphenhydramine which once required a prescription but now is available OTC nearly everywhere. Diphenhydramine is an anti-histamine. Some of the more recent examples are cimetidine and loratadine in the United States, and ibuprofen in Australia.

Though there have been rare instances, it is somewhat unusual for an OTC drug to be withdrawn from the market as a result of safety concerns, rather than market forces. One such instance was the drug Phenylpropanolamine. It was removed from sale in the United States over concern regarding strokes in young women. A study has been done examining consumer’s perceptions about the risk of and access to nonprescription medication. However, the public trend shows that a substantial minority appears willing to accept considerable risk to gain greater access to pharmaceuticals.

Some typical ‘over the counter’ antibiotics

•    Neosporin -> Neosporin is the antibiotic product branding and formulas now owned by Johnson & Johnson of an over-the-counter topical antibiotic ointment. Neosporin is marketed for the prevention and fighting of infections and speeding the healing of wounds. (it is to be noted that there is little data supporting these claims, and in clinical trials, Neosporin is not more effective than simple petroleum jelly).In the US, the only large market for Neosporin, the ointment has been shown to promote the prevalence of MRSA bacteria. The original ointment contains three different antibiotics: bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B, in a relatively low molecular weight patented base of cocoa butter, cottonseed oil, sodium pyruvate, tocopheryl acetate, and petroleum jelly.

•    Treatment for ‘Impetigo’ -> For generations, the disease was treated with an application of the antiseptic gentian violet. Currently, topical or oral antibiotics are usually prescribed. Treatment may involve washing with soap and water and letting the impetigo dry in the air. Mild cases may be treated with bactericidal ointment, such as mupirocin, which in some countries may be available over-the-counter. More severe cases require oral antibiotics, such as dicloxacillin, flucloxacillin or erythromycin. Alternatively amoxicillin combined with clavulanate potassium, cephalosporins.

•    Treatment for influenza -> Treatments for influenza include a range of medications and therapies that are used in response to disease influenza. Treatments may either directly target the influenza virus itself; or instead they may just offer relief to symptoms of the disease, while the body’s own immune system works to recover from infection. ‘Over the counter’ medicines are available.

Web presence

With the advent of internet, ‘Over The Counter Antibiotics’ can be bought ‘on-line’ as well. The websites present a neat description about the medicine and the symotoms for which they are to be take along with recommended dosage.