In a recent publication in European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Services, researchers conducted a cross-sectional, survey-based study to assess the most commonly utilized OTC medications and their influence on those individuals who utilize them.

The study was conducted between June 2021 and November 2021 and involved 442 participants who routinely used OTC drugs. Most patients (69.2%) did not use dietary or herbal supplements. The average age was 27.44 ± 16.62 years.

The results revealed that females (53.8%) used OTC medications at a slightly greater rate than males (46.2%), and the most frequent users of OTC drugs were those aged between 20 and 40 years (50.5%). Additionally, the most common symptoms for which consumers elected to use OTC products included the common cold (33.03%), cough (4.75%), headache (4.3%), colic (2.49%), and burns (2.49%).

The authors discovered that the most commonly utilized OTC drugs included paracetamol (13.35%), followed by ibuprofen (2.04%). Data also revealed that the majority of patients (76%) had no medication misuse, (95%) had pharmacist counseling, and (93.9%) were willing to pay for pharmacist self-care services on proper OTC usage.

The authors indicated that length, frequency, recommendation, and misuse of OTC drugs were all considerably linked to the patient’s age and gender.

Moreover, this study revealed that 31.4% of patients utilized OTC drugs as a previous prescription, 16.1% from Internet experience, 15.4% from a friend’s recommendation, and 9% treated themselves without previous experience. The most relevant sources of information were documented as friends/relatives, pharmacists, and doctors, with rates of 27.41%, 16.55%, and 16.55%, respectively.

The authors also indicated that participants aged older than 65 years had a better knowledge of the potential adverse effects and drug-drug interactions of OTC medications than those aged younger than 65 years.

Data also revealed that patients preferred information regarding OTC medication tailored to their individual needs provided by pharmacists over information generated by manufacturers.

In conclusion, the authors wrote, “OTC medications can easily be obtained at pharmacies for the purpose of self-treatment. The most common OTC drugs used by the studied patients were paracetamol, followed by ibuprofen. It is suggested that an awareness program among community people be conducted at the community level regarding OTC drugs.”

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