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A Survey in Indian Population on Attitude to Self-Medication

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Self-medication is the use of prescription drugs to treat self-recognized disorders or symptoms, including the occasional or continued use of medicines listed in a previous/outdated prescription issued by physicians. Illiteracy, semi-literacy, previous experience of success, low physician population ratio, lack of patient counselling and poor regulatory rigour are among the many reasons for self-medication. High physician-consulting fee and inaccessibility to physicians also promote self-medication, particularly among the rural poor. This study evaluated (with illustrative case studies) public opinion on self-medication, chiefly to create awareness about self-medication among both healthcare professionals and the lay public. A survey of only one question “Self-Medication Kills or Heals?” was sent online through various modes of communication. 624 responses were collected. Relevant cases were collected by following up cases of self-medication associated adverse events over a period of one year. 51.9% responses claimed that self-medication sometimes kills but mostly heals, while 15.1% said that it sometimes heals but mostly kills. 33% said that self-medication kills. In a case of steroid self-medication, the patient was totally immobile due to high bone-fragility. In another instance, continuous self-administration of domperidone led to galactorrhea and self-administration of amitriptyline for two months (without follow up) resulted in seizures. Self-modification of Methotrexate dosing schedule from once a week to once daily led to immunosuppression and bone marrow suppression. In a unique case of self-medication, an ENT doctor misdiagnosed his dengue fever as malaria and self-treated, leading to death from multiple organ failure. Self-medication is a critical healthcare issue in India. Major reasons for self-medication are poorly implemented regulation of drug dispensing and advertising, lack of proper patient counseling, overworked physicians, poor access to physicians, poorly recognized role of trained pharmacists in patient counselling and ignorance among the lay public on health issues.
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Keywords: Health Literacy; Self Medication; Self-Diagnosis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Pharmacy Practice, Manipal University, Manipal 576104, India 2: Human Rights Protection Foundation, Udupi 576102, India

Publication date: March 1, 2017

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  • ADVANCED SCIENCE LETTERS is an international peer-reviewed journal with a very wide-ranging coverage, consolidates research activities in all areas of (1) Physical Sciences, (2) Biological Sciences, (3) Mathematical Sciences, (4) Engineering, (5) Computer and Information Sciences, and (6) Geosciences to publish original short communications, full research papers and timely brief (mini) reviews with authors photo and biography encompassing the basic and applied research and current developments in educational aspects of these scientific areas.
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