FEB 17, 2019 8:11 PM PST

Dangers of an OTC Diarrhea Medication

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

A recent study by Rutgers University found that overdosing on loperamide—a non-prescription, over-the-counter diarrhea medication, has increased nationwide in recent years. Published in the journal Clinical Toxicology, the study found increasing evidence in which patients with opioid use disorder will misuse loperamide to prevent and self-treat withdrawal symptoms. Some patients were also revealed to take high doses of loperamide to establish similar effects of taking heroin, fentanyl or oxycodone.

When used appropriately, loperamide is a safe and effective treatment for diarrhea – but when misused in large doses, it is more toxic to the heart than other opioids, which are classified under the federal policy as controlled dangerous substances. Credit: Rutgers University

Loperamide is inexpensive, can be bought in large quantities online and in retail stores, and is undetectable on routine drug tests. "When used appropriately, loperamide is a safe and effective treatment for diarrhea -- but when misused in large doses, it is more toxic to the heart than other opioids which are classified under federal policy as controlled dangerous substances," says senior author Diane Calello, who is also the executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers University Medical School. "Overdose deaths occur not because patients stop breathing, as with other opioids, but due to irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest."

Learn more about Loperamide as an anti-diarrheal drug:

The study reviewed reported cases of patients with loperamide exposure in a national registry. The patients that reported misuse of loperamide, taking in about 50 to 100 two-milligram pills per day, were mostly young Caucasian men and women.

"Possible ways of restricting loperamide misuse include limiting the daily or monthly amount an individual could purchase, requiring retailers to keep personal information about customers, requiring photo identification for purchase and placing medication behind the counter," stated Calello. "Most importantly, consumers need to understand the very real danger of taking this medication in excessive doses."

Source: Rutgers University

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
JAN 15, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
JAN 15, 2020
Acid-Reflux Drugs May Negatively Impact Breast Cancer Survivors
Many of us have taken some form of an acid-reflux drug—especially after a meal that causes discomfort. However, now researchers are indicating that s...
JAN 25, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
JAN 25, 2020
Taking Psychedelics Improves Mood, says Yale Researchers
Psychedelics have long been known for their potential to enable deep reflection and modulate people’s moods. But evidence for this mostly came from a...
FEB 10, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
FEB 10, 2020
Drug Prevents Coronavirus in Monkeys
An antiviral drug successfully prevented Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in infected rhesus macaques. The drug, Remdesivir, was adm...
FEB 25, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
FEB 25, 2020
Treating stroke with low dose of clot-busting drug
A study concludes that a low-dose of the clot-busting drug—tenecteplase—may be beneficial for eligible stroke patients that do not need an inte...
MAR 08, 2020
Microbiology
MAR 08, 2020
A Supercomputer Aids in the Hunt for COVID-19 Therapeutics
It is seeming more likely that COVID-19, caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, will impact many people....
MAR 13, 2020
Immunology
MAR 13, 2020
Malaria drug treats lupus and prevents diabetes
A drug commonly used to treat certain types of malaria has been found to have some surprising synergistic effects: having an anti-inflammatory effect on lu...
Loading Comments...