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Free Content Management of asthma at private pharmacies in India

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SETTING: Chennai, India.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the medications and advice that retail pharmacy attendants recommend to customers presenting with typical symptoms of asthma in an urban area of India.

DESIGN: Four simulated clients described symptoms of mild persistent asthma to a quota sample of pharmacies in ten areas of the city. Clients recorded consultations with attendants and purchased a sample of the recommended medications.

RESULTS: A total of 52 shops were visited on 56 occasions. Shopkeepers offered 140 medications during the consultations, and clients purchased a sample of 100 medications (71%). Four shops (7%) refused to sell any medications. Attendants recommended oral bronchodilators during 26 (50%) consultations, antibiotics during 23 (44%), methylxanthines during 22 (42%) and oral corticosteroids during 20 (38%). No inhaled medications were ever recommended. The majority of the medications purchased were missing information about dosage (concentration), date of expiry and active ingredients. Thirteen (24%) of 54 attendants advised the clients to seek medical attention.

CONCLUSION: The majority of individuals presenting with asthma symptoms did not receive appropriate advice or medications from pharmacy attendants. Efforts to raise the quality of asthma management in developing countries should include interventions to improve pharmacy-guided self-medication.
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Keywords: India; asthma; medication; pharmacy; simulated client

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Publication date: 01 December 2006

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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