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Pain patches are slowly gaining in popularity in the United States, where 88 percent of pain relief comes in the form of pills. USA Today reports the patches are catching on as Americans suffer from aches and pains as they age, and as they become concerned about the risks of pills.

Over-the-counter pain patches are much more expensive than pills. For instance, a five-pack of Salonpas arthritis pain patches are about $9, the same price as almost 100 Advil pills, the article notes.

Patches must be disposed of carefully, so that children and pets cannot find them. Patches still have medication on them even after they are used, notes Dr. Scott Zashin, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School.

Children who are exposed to medication through family members’ transdermal patches are at risk of overdose, experts warn. There have been cases in which children have sucked on used medication patches, or used discarded patches. They can even be exposed to medication through the hug of someone wearing a patch.

The Food and Drug Administration has issued safety warnings about properly using and disposing of the patches, including instructions to fold the patches sticky side down and flush them down the toilet to prevent children and pets from retrieving them.


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