Irrational Use of Medicines - A Threat to Patient Community

More than 50% all medicines worldwide are prescribed,dispensed or sold inappropriately. 50% of patients
fail to take them correctly. Conversely, about one-third of the world population lacks access to essential medicines. Treatment with medicines is one of the most cost-effective medical interventions known and the proportion of national health budget spent on medicines ranges between 10% and 20% in developed countries and between 20 and 40% in developing countries. Thus, it is extremely serious that so much medicine is being used in an inappropriate and irrational way.

Irrational use

Common types of irrational use of medicine are:
1. The use of too many medicines per patient
2. Inappropriate use of antibiotics, often in inadequate dosage, for viral infections
3. Over-use of injections when oral formulations would be more appropriate;
4. Failure to prescribe in accordance with clinical guidelines;
5. Inappropriate self-medication, often of prescription-only medicines.

Poor communication between professionals and consumers

Communication between professionals and consumers is fundamental to the improvement of rational use of medicines by consumers. Professionals should provide the following information to the consumers: the name of the medicine, the purpose for which the medicine is being taken, dose, frequency of use, and duration of use. The prescribed and dispensed medicines should also be properly labeled indicating the above information. The shortage of qualified health personnel in public health facilities has resulted in inadequate labeling of medications , and in insufficient time spent by them to inform the consumers on how to take the medicine. Also important are the possible drug and food interactions that might occur after taking the medicines. In cases of medicines for chronic diseases such as anti cancer drugs, the adverse effects such as memory loss, depression and many others should be explained to the consumer.

All this communication requires adequate time between the professionals and consumers which is not always available due to the enormous workload of the health professionals in the developing countries. The situations has been made worse by the increase in the spread of HIV/AIDS and the attendant treatment issues which have placed further burden on both the health professionals and consumers.

The influence of the company towards prescribing its product specially when new product introduced into the market. A study conducted by German Government on new medicines showed that 300000 doctors were prescribing a new type of insulin (analogue insulin) which has no added advantage over existing insulin. As a result of this finding the German Ministry of health decided to exclude new drugs form the list of medications paid for the national health insurance system as long as they are more expensive than existing approved drugs. This is an important step into the right direction but many of such types of steps taken in future to protect patients from this serious and widespread public health problem

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