Objective A survey was designed to investigate customers attitudes and knowledge toward non-prescription medicines taken on a self-medication basis but not devoid of risks. Setting Community pharmacies in Italy. Method Forty-four pharmacies participated in the project. On the basis of an anonymous questionnaire, face-to-face interviews were made to customers buying a non-prescription medicine over a 2-month period. The questionnaire included information about socio-demographic characteristics of the interviewed subjects and 18 items designed to elicit information about the kind of medicine purchased and reason of use, general product knowledge in relation to quality and risks, attitudes toward this kind of drugs, concurrent prescription drug use and the quality of relationship with the pharmacist. Results During the study period, 613 interviews were collected. The most frequently non-prescription medicines purchased by customers were non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, paracetamol and medicines for gastrointestinal problems. The most of interviewees referred to read carefully the package inserts or to ask information to pharmacists. Moreover, they reported to consider non-prescription medicines easy to manage and to be used only for minor ailments and for short periods. 55.3% of customers reported to have been taking at least a prescription drug, mostly antihypertensives or other cardiovascular medicines, in association with non-prescription medicines. In this situation, interviewees often did not inform pharmacists about chronic therapies. Conclusion Our interviews demonstrate that, in general, Italian customers have a cautious approach toward non-prescription medicines and are informed on their use. However, in case of a long-term use, interviewees underestimate risks related to possible physiological/pathological changes in their organism or to interactions with other drugs.
Customers attitudes Customers knowledge Drug safety Italy Community pharmacy Non-prescription drugs
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Special thanks to Pharmacists’ Association of Verona for the collaboration and to Dr. Anna Cordioli for her support.
No external sources of funding have been obtained for this work.
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