Prescription for disaster: Mixing medications can kill

If information is shared that lets us know someone has caused their own death by mixing a prescription medication with a medication that is available over-the- counter, some are shocked. Others no doubt also know of some instances where a famous person or someone close to them died because of mixing medications.

Prescription drugs do come with warnings that should prevent these accidental deaths caused by mixing medications sold over-the-counter with prescriptions. However, not every person using prescription medication bothers to read the warnings. Also, some might just feel the warnings do not pertain to their situation. 
When a prescription is filled in the United States, someone in the pharmacy department will usually ask if there are any questions. Also, a consultation with the pharmacist is offered or recommended in stores where prescriptions are filled. Information offered when using medication over-the-counter while taking a prescription medication could save a life. Sometimes there are also warnings about mixing certain supplements and foods with a prescription medication.                                                                                                                                                 

Over-the-counter medications mixed with other medications that do not require a prescription can also cause death or serious harm in many cases. While most might be aware that packaging is included that warns consumers not to mix certain items, some consumers still do this. If you doubt this happens, ask your family and friends about medications they are taking without the understanding of how this could harm them. 
Sadly, children also die each year because a prescription medication was give along with something that is sold over-the-counter. What seems to be such a simple thing, such as a cough syrup or antihistamine purchased without a prescription, might be given to a child taking a prescription. Mixing these can have devastating results. 
The news about a famous person taking too much of a prescription or mixing over-the-counter medications with a prescription will hit the news for all to see. The details of an overdose by someone in your community might not ever be shared. However, these do happen on a regular basis.

In addition to speaking with a pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter item while take a prescription medication, doing some online research may also help. Visiting sites that include details about drug interactions could help some realize how serious mixing medications can be for anyone. 

In some cases the mix of over-the-counter medications and prescriptions won’t cause death, but could still do serious harm. Each year,  many find themselves in an emergency room because they had a reaction to medications that never should have been mixed.


  1. Profile photo of Gina  M. Menorca
    Gina M. Menorca

    In my area, we can not buy medicines, especially antibiotics without the prescription from the doctor. Self-medicating is very harmful to our health. One should really take the advised of the doctor seriously.

    1. Profile photo of Pat Z Anthony
      Pat Z Anthony Post author

      We can’t get most things here without a prescription. However, many of the things we can get, including antihistamines and acetaminophen (Tylenol ingredient) can be harmful when mixed with the wrong thing.

  2. Profile photo of Andria Perry
    Andria Perry

    Your are right! Plus people with liver problems should not ever take tylenol and people on blood thinners should not take vitamin K.

    I shared this article on G+

    1. Profile photo of Pat Z Anthony
      Pat Z Anthony Post author

      It is hard to know what goes with what, even with all the info we can find online now. Too many make the mistake of thinking once won’t matter.

    1. Profile photo of Pat Z Anthony
      Pat Z Anthony Post author

      And as more things are available to us without a prescription, there are more deaths or injuries occurring here.

  3. Profile photo of N Sri Naga Jyothi
    N Sri Naga Jyothi

    without prescription buying medicines is a big mistake, we doesn’t know what the problem is and we go with what we know and that medicine may not be for that and it may effect badly our health. You know English medicine will have dual roles.

    1. Profile photo of Pat Z Anthony
      Pat Z Anthony Post author

      More people do need to be careful of what they are taking when using a prescription of any sort.

  4. Profile photo of BrendaMarieFluhartyClapp

    People differently need to know about what can’t be taking together. I am one of those people, who will not take anything until I really need it. I do take herb and have to know, about them as well.

    1. Profile photo of Pat Z Anthony
      Pat Z Anthony Post author

      Yes, even herbs can kill if mixed with the wrong prescription medication. It is always good to be cautious.

  5. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
    Kyla Matton Osborne

    Pharmacists have several times protected me or a family member from taking the wrong drug after a doctor made a prescription error. They are a vital resource! I always read everything they give me and research more online. But I always take drug questions to the expert: my pharmacist.

    1. Profile photo of Pat Z Anthony
      Pat Z Anthony Post author

      When accompanying someone to a pharmacy today, it was a surprise to us that when the person was asked if they had taken the medication previously and they replied yes, the pharmacist was ready to just let him go off and of course being ME, I asked-

      What about other things he takes over-the-counter or from his doctor? Could these be an issue?

      I should not have had to bring it up! But, it does not seem to be an automatic concern here for some reason.

    2. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne

      Wow! That’s not very professional for a pharmacist!

      In Canada, the pharmacists are required to give a printed patient info sheet whenever a prescription is filled for the first time. (So not with repeats, but this counts even if it’s the 10th time you’ve had a prescription for the same drug.)

      Most pharmacists will walk the patient through the list item by item and make sure there are no questions. The more thorough pharmacists will begin by asking about medications, allergies, chronic conditions, etc. – even if it’s already on file. And they’ll ask questions that relate particularly to the drug prescribed, or give any additional warnings verbally.

      I think I’d want to have a word with that pharmacist about being more thorough. And if nothing improved, I’d be looking for a new pharmacist.

  6. Profile photo of Sandy KS
    Sandy KS

    You are so right. I know a few of the medications I take can not be taken when eating grapefruit. I always read the papers given to see what I can take my medications with or not with. My daughter si the same way.

    Also taking medication prescribed to someone else can lead to a fatal mistake or worse death.

    1. Profile photo of Sandy KS
      Sandy KS

      No we can’t. I am very careful with it. As I knwo my daughter is not. She has dropped her medicine. Or left it laying around. Saying she thought she had taken it. I am not sure which. I am worried my grandson or one of the dogs will get a hold of it with a dire consequence.

  7. Profile photo of Priscilla King
    Priscilla King

    I once knew someone who said he just got tired of dealing with cold symptoms and started taking all the different OTC’s he had “until something worked.” How this method worked was that he woke up in hospital with people looking at him strangely and emoting, “Why-y-y did you wa-a-a-ant to hu-u-u-urt yourself?” Since he no longer had the cold and just wanted to go back to work, luckily for him, he *was* released after two or three days’ observation.

    1. Profile photo of Pat Z Anthony
      Pat Z Anthony Post author

      It is terrible to hear about the serious things that happen to people when they do such things. People die daily because they had done something like this.

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