FEB 17, 2019 08:11 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 enjoys writing on various topics 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
OCT 18, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
OCT 18, 2019
What does MDMA Therapy Look Like?
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) aims to create an FDA-approved standardized MDMA-assisted psychotherapy practice for PTSD ...
OCT 18, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
OCT 18, 2019
Insulin Drug Could Treat Glioblastoma
A molecule used for drug delivery of insulin was recently found by researchers at the University of Georgia’s Regenerative Bioscience Center to hold...
OCT 18, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
OCT 18, 2019
How Does Ketamine Treat Depression?
In recent years, ketamine has received growing interest for its neuroprotective effects. Known to alleviate symptoms of depression in just hours whereas co...
OCT 18, 2019
Technology
OCT 18, 2019
Biomagents for Drug Discovery
Scientists have recently developed a chip-like device that utilizes tiny magnets that sort large populations of mixed cell types. "We casually agreed...
OCT 18, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
OCT 18, 2019
Breast Cancer Drug Increases Survival for Prostate Cancer Patients
A breast cancer drug is better at treating advanced prostate cancer in some men than current therapies, a clinical trial shows....
OCT 18, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
OCT 18, 2019
Drug Increases Survival Rates for Heart Failure Patients
Scientists have demonstrated in preclinical studies that a drug called ‘Aliskiren’ works by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme involved in bl...
Loading Comments...