Dr. Nadia Az Zahra, Dr. Sanjay Kumar, Dr. Afzal Ahmad, Dr. Jwala Kumar, Dr. Shubhra Bishwas


BACKGROUND: There is no separate over the counter (OTC) category in India. Drugs that are not included in the list for prescription-only drugs are pictured as non-prescription drugs. Prescription-only drugs are those that fall under Schedule H, H1 & Schedule X of drugs and cosmetics rules 1945.The OTC Drug market is increasing internationally and India ranks 11th in the global OTC market. In spite of the existing rules & regulations, in the absence of a clear definition & legal recognition to OTC products & ease of access to various medications, it seems difficult to curb the rising tendency towards self-medication which is highly prevalent in India.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the practice of self-medication and find out the indications, reasons, category of drugs used, source of information for self-medication, knowledge about the purchased medicine and public opinion regarding self-medication practice in a tertiary care hospital of Patna.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A questionnaire based cross sectional observational study was carried out at Nalanda Medical College & Hospital, Patna among 602 patients for a period of 4 months from April 2019 to July 2019. Descriptive data analysis was done and reported in frequencies and percentage.

RESULTS: Prevalence of self-medication in our study was found to be 55%. Frequency of self-medication was found to be once in 39% of the patients. Main reason for self-medication was cost effectiveness(25%) followed by previous experience(24%), the indications most commonly being pain(32%) followed by respiratory infections(17%). We found analgesics (34%) to be the most commonly used drug for self-medication. Around 30% of the patients had some knowledge about the medicines purchased. Most of them(61%) believed that it is an acceptable practice in case of  minor illness.

CONCLUSION: Self-medication appears to be a double-edged sword. Our study reflects the prevalence and practice of self-medication in this area. Imparting knowledge about frequently used medications, conditions to be considered as a minor illness, the upsurge of antibiotic resistance, importance of package inserts & expiry dates, advantage of consulting a medical practitioner in contrast to a pharmacist at medical stores and pros & cons of self-medication as a whole, would definitely help balance this concept.


self-medication, prescription-only drugs, over the counter(OTC) drugs

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