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Suspected inappropriate use of prescription and non-prescription drugs among requesting customers: A Saudi community pharmacists’ perspective

Background: Inappropriate use of medications is a global health concern, and this is attributed to the increased accessibility to prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) drugs at community pharmacies. We investigated the inappropriate use of prescription and non-prescription drugs in community pharmacies based on the perspectives of the community pharmacists in Saudi Arabia. 

Methods: This was a questionnaire-based, cross-sectional survey which employed convenient sampling (snowball technique) to recruit participants. Being a licensed practicing pharmacist in a retail chain or an independent community pharmacy was the inclusion criteria. Participants were asked to report the drugs they suspected of being inappropriately used along with the frequency, age, and gender of the suspected customers. Pharmacists were also asked to mention the action taken to limit inappropriate use at their pharmacy. 

Results: A total of 397 community pharmacists completed the questionnaire (86.9% response rate). 86.4% of the pharmacists suspected some level of abuse or misuse to have occurred. After receiving the questionnaire, the pharmacists reported suspected inappropriate use as encountered during the past three months. Cumulative inappropriate use was reported 1069 times (prescription drugs – 530; non-prescription drugs – 539). The top three inappropriately used prescription-drug categories were gabapentinoids (22.5%), antipsychotics (17.5%), and topical corticosteroids (12.1%). Among non-prescription drugs, cough products (33.2%) ranked first, followed by cold and flu products (29.5%) and first-generation antihistamines (10.8%). The cross-tabulations revealed that being in the age range of 26–50 years and being a male was significantly associated (p<0.001) with abuse/misuse of antipsychotics, antidepressants, gabapentinoids, cough products, and first-generation antihistamines. Eye products (Bimatoprost) and skin products abuse/misuse had a significant association with female gender (p<0.001). 

Conclusion: The results of our study provide crucial information to the healthcare authorities regarding the medications that can be inappropriately used at the community pharmacies in Saudi Arabia which necessitates implementation of stringent dispensing regulations. Educational programs can be implemented to increase the awareness among public regarding the harmful effects of inappropriate use of drugs.


Adobe PDF OTC drugs use and misuse in Saudi Arabia

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