You don’t get to be a Supreme Court justice unless you are pretty darn smart. But Justice Ginsburg made a mistake that could have cost her her life. She had a long flight to Europe ahead of her, and hoping to sleep, she took two OTC sleep aids in addition to a prescription sleeping pill. It was all too much for her, and she was rushed to the hospital before the plane took off.

Justice Ginsburg forgot to read the instructions on the label. Millions of people make similar mistakes every day. Doubling up on nonprescription drugs or mixing them with prescription medicine can have serious consequences.

Just ask Michael Jackson’s family…or Anna Nicole Smith’s family…or Heath Ledger’s family. All these celebrities were taking complicated concoctions of medications that did not mix well.

The next time you contemplate taking Advil with your blood pressure medicine, consider the possibility that your pain reliever might undo the benefits of the anti-hypertensive. The Tagamet HB200 you take for your heartburn could kick your Coumadin into overdrive and result in a deadly hemorrhage.

Justice Ginsburg’s unfortunate incident should be a wake-up call for all of us. Before you take any over-the-counter medicine, read the label and make sure it won’t clash with any prescription medicine you may take.

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  1. q

    It scares me that you have to TELL people this – what are we thinking that we don’t read and read and read labels???

  2. mgd

    Having had panic attacks in the past I found Valium as an immediate help followed with daily anafranil was a big help. Fortunately, am not experiencing any panic & have been off the meds for several years now…. rarely I may take 1/2 of a 5 mg. tab. of the Valium for anxiety. Nothing else really was of any help except the two Rx mentioned above.
    Hope your friend gets some help… those panic attack/anxiety attacks are no fun & for some-like me- only the Rx drugs helped.

  3. SHG

    I was just coming to this site to thank Joe and Terry for talking about this and saw your comment. Would your friend be open to trying Holy Basil (perhaps in a tea…called Tulsi…or in a tincture form as from the company Gaia Herbs?)
    Here’s what I found in a quick search before responding: (this is from Dr. Weil who is well-known in the integrative medical world)
    good luck!

  4. SHG

    I just want to thank Joe and Terry for publicizing this event. I first heard the news of it on NPR and, since I really don’t listen or watch traditional news sources, I assumed that it was “all over” the news. Last evening I mentioned it to my aging parents (one with dementia whose meds we have to watch closely). They watch NBC, Fox, CNN and MSNBC daily….and never heard this story. Frightening that the mainstream media didn’t see this as an opportunity for education.
    Thanks again for all your great work. Really loved the recent interview with Larry Dossey as well…

  5. Carolyn

    This is a good warning for folks–read labels, and ask questions, before swallowing any medications. Even common OTC drugs can have ill-effects (just ask my husband, who is extremely allergic to Aspirin). Political comments rather out of place in discussions of drugs and drug interactions, isn’t it? Not necessary to agree with Justice Ginsburg’s political leanings to feel concern for her well-being.

  6. MJ

    I have a dear friend who is a an intelligent, warm caring person. Unfortunately she has suffered from extreme panic and anxiety attacks since she was a toddler. She reports having spent a fortune on pychotherapy and has tried many different medications.
    The only one that helps her is Manerix, maoclobemid, which has not been approved for use in the U.S.. She use to order it from Canada and has enough to last about 5 weeks. She has been refusing to take the medication, even though her panic attacks have become very debilitating, because she is afraid that she will lose her health insurance if the carrier finds out that she is taking a non-approved drug.
    The recent increase in her attacks has been caused by her paralyzing fear of the H1N1 Flu. She has severe asthma. She has called the international company that manufactures Manerix about the potential for FDA approval but was told that the sales potential in the U.S. would be too low to justify the cost of the approval process.
    Can you suggest any options for her? She is desperate.

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