THE OVER-THE-COUNTER DRUG BOOK by Michael B. Brodin, MD, Pocket Books, New York, 1998, 441 pages, $7, Paperback, ISBN: 0-671-01380-7,

Dr Michael B Brodin, who is on the clinical faculty of the New York University School of Medicine, organized his reference book by disease categories and his recommended treatments are readily available OTC (over the counter) medications. The first chapter gives a brief two-page over view of allergies and hay fever and then discusses the four classes of OTC medications that are used to treat the symptoms of hay fever. Brodin then explains which symptoms are best treated by each of the four classes of medications: antihistamines, decongestants, Cromolyn, and analgesics. For arthritis, he gives only a few temporary suggestions since the diagnosis is rather key and thus this disease must be evaluated medically before any long term treatment can be instituted. This must be done by the physician, since it exceeds what is available OTC. Asthma has two OTC products, namely epinephrine via inhaler and ephedrine, in pill form. He notes that most asthma specialists find no place for OTC asthma drugs and that you shouldn't either. Hence, we note not only Brodin's thoroughness, but also his caution.

Brodin includes a glossary, an FDA classification section, a list of all Poison Control Centers in each state, a special precautionary section, a photosensitivity list, and an index. Although this handy reference may be the HMO's dream come true, it is a valuable complementary volume to the preceding book. Physicians would also benefit to know what sources are available to patients when they take a call at night or during the general management of patients.

Del Meyer, MD