Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Reasonable use of OTC drugs

Inappropriate supply and use of over-the-counter medicines pose major public-health risks for developed and developing countries alike. European researchers created a scientific basis for reducing related problems and maximising the potential of medicines used in health care.
Reasonable use of OTC drugs
The 'Assessing the over-the-counter medications in primary care and translating the theory of planned behaviour into interventions' (OTC SOCIOMED) project was established with EU funding to assess the extent of inappropriate supply and consumption of non-prescribed medicines in certain southern European countries. Project partners also aimed to identify factors influencing the provision and consumption of these medicines in four primary care groups: general practitioners (GPs), pharmacists, patients and clients.

Further, researchers worked to implement theory-guided interventions, addressing the training needs of physicians and the behavioural aspects involved in the inappropriate provision of over the counter (OTC) medicines. The project involved 12 participating bodies from eight countries: Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden and Turkey.

The OTC SOCIOMED team initially described OTC provision and consumption, and then carried out regional and geographical comparisons of OTC provision and consumption. They subsequently assessed beliefs, attitudes and perceived behaviour control of GPs and pharmacists on the one hand, and patients and clients on the other.

Subsequently, a multifaceted intervention for addressing GPs' beliefs and attitudes towards medicines was designed, implemented and evaluated. The aim was to test the feasibility of a pilot intervention, and also to change GPs' intentions to provide medicines without well-documented evidence.

A set of recommendations and practical guidelines was distributed to stakeholders, public and private organisations, and bodies involved in medical research and education, health-care planning, drug industry distribution and monitoring.

OTC SOCIOMED successfully identified modifiable determinants of the provision and consumption of non-prescribed medicines. Project partners also delivered well-designed interventions that promote the better use of non-prescribed medicines in Europe, particularly in southern European countries. The study advanced an operationalised structure for defining and evaluating interventions that target similar behaviours in other health-care professions and disciplines.

Outcomes of the OTC SOCIOMED project stand to reduce adverse drug reactions and reign in the trend of opting for self-treatment over seeking medical advice. Implementing the knowledge and insights produced by the project will help the EU maintain the good health of individuals and society.

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