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Overuse of Certain OTC Laxatives may be Dangerous

Aschenbrenner, Diane S. MS, RN

AJN, American Journal of Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000446776.76652.11
Drug Watch

* The Food and Drug Administration is alerting consumers and health care professionals to potentially serious adverse effects of excessive dosing of over-the-counter laxatives containing sodium biphosphate or sodium phosphate.

* These oral and rectal products are sold under the trade name Fleet and as store brands and generics.

* Severe electrolyte imbalance and dehydration can result from exceeding the daily dosing recommendation. Young children and older adults are at high risk for these serious adverse effects, as are patients with dehydration and altered kidney or bowel function, and those taking medications that alter kidney function.

Author Information

Diane S. Aschenbrenner recently retired as course coordinator for undergraduate pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in Baltimore, MD. She also coordinates Drug Watch:

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