alexa Multicenter study on self-medication and self-prescription in six Latin American countries. Drug Utilization Research Group, Latin America.
Pharmaceutical Sciences

Pharmaceutical Sciences

Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs: Open Access

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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the patterns of self-medication in Latin-American countries. METHODS: This cross-sectional drug utilization study took place at 242 pharmacies in 11 study areas in six countries. Unselected samples of customers were interviewed with a structured questionnaire after they had purchased a medicinal product without any medical prescription and without seeking or accepting the advice of the pharmacist or pharmacy counter assistant. RESULTS: We interviewed 8597 consumers. They had purchased 10,569 pharmaceutical products. Ten percent of the products were intended for family use, 14.1\% were for children, 68.2\% were for adults, and 7.9\% were for elderly people. Thirty-nine percent of the products were fixed-dose combinations, and 19\% contained three or more active ingredients. Analgesics (16.8\%) were the leading group of drugs, followed by antibiotics (7.4\%), antiinflammatory and antirheumatic products (5.9\%), and vitamins (5.1\%). Consumers interviewed purchased relatively high numbers of cardiovascular drugs (494, 5\%) and drugs that act on the central nervous system (256, 2.4\%). Only 34\% of dispensed drugs had an approved over-the-counter status; less restrictive criteria suggest that 24\% should have been dispensed on a medical prescription. CONCLUSIONS: The high proportion of fixed-dose combinations reflects poorly regulated pharmaceutical markets. The relatively high proportion of drugs dispensed without a medical prescription that nevertheless need medical follow-up is probably attributable to difficult access to medical care. The potential effectiveness of these treatments is therefore jeopardized by lack of medical follow-up. There is a need for implementation of a comprehensive pharmaceutical and health care policy in the participating countries. This article was published in Clin Pharmacol Ther and referenced in Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs: Open Access

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