Don't ignore labels on common drugs

Too many people think no real harm can come from taking over-the-counter pain killers. But they can be wrong. Too much of any drug or any drug in combination with others can have dangerous results.

The drugs are easily accessible, cheap and sold to anybody. As a result, consumers seldom bother to read the labels to make sure they take the pills properly. Consumers also ignore warnings about mixing pain killers with other drugs. They also tend to ignore the risks associated with taking pain killers and consuming alcoholic beverages.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is mandating new labels, which include fluorescent or bold-face type. That's a welcome start, but it won't do any good unless consumers read and heed the directions. Nobody taking a pain killer to get relief from a headache should wind up in the hospital from serious side effects because he or she didn't take an over-the-counter medicine correctly.

The above editorial excerpt is from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.