Self-medication misuse is high in the Middle East

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A new massive problem of self-medication misuse in the Middle East. The findings indicate the need for better patient and physician education. As well as improved policies that restrict sales of prescription medications without a prescription.

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Furthermore, Self-medication not limited to over-the-counter medicines. Patients self-medicate with prescription medicines have prescribed and left over from a previous time. Also, even not authorized, some countries individuals sometimes buy prescription medicines directly from community pharmacies. Especially for the short-term treatment of common diseases.

In the Middle East, prescription medicines easily purchased without a prescription, resulting in potential misuse and unnecessary risk. To examine self-medication misuse in the Middle East, Dr. Malak Khalifeh, of the Bordeaux University in France, and her colleagues conducted an extensive review of literature published between 1990 and 2015.

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Moreover, medicines involved in misuse included codeine containing products, topical anesthetics, topical corticosteroids, antimalarial drugs, and antibiotics. Self-medication misuse seemed widespread, and pharmacists, friends, and parents were the main sources of medications. One study noted that pharmacies in Iran sold 57% of prescription items without a prescription. Another found that in Syria, 87% of 200 pharmacies visited agreed to sell antibiotics without a prescription.

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In addition, this figure increased to 97%, investigators first denied antibiotics insisted on having the antibiotics. In Saudi Arabia, only one attendant pharmacist refused to dispense medications without a prescription. Strategies and interventions to limit misuse were rarely mentioned in studies.

The findings indicate that there is a serious problem of self-medication misuse in the Middle East involving a range of medicines. “There is a relative lack of literature relating to self-medication misuse in the Middle East, and relatively little systematic research on this topic, partly due to the perception that self-mediation misuse as problematic as other types of drug abuse,” said Dr. Khalifeh. “This review has found a massive problem, and it could be used as a reference for multiple research studies that deal with self-medication misuses in Middle Eastern countries.”