A survey of the misuse and abuse of over the counter drugs in Kenya
Drug misuse can be defined as the use of a drug's medical properties for wrong indication, wrong dosage or for a duration longer than is recommended. Drug abuse is a situation where one is fully addicted or dependent on a drug. Drugs available to the public from pharmacy outlets can either be:• Over the counter (OTC) drugs • Prescription only medicine (POM) Over the counter (OTe) drugs are also known as non-prescription drugs. OTe drugs require no prescriptions from medical practitioners and hence are available to the public as they so wish. On the other hand POM can only be dispensed to the public as per the prescriptions from licensed medical practitioners. Although most people use POM properly, a significant number do not. They might take them without a doctor's prescription, use more than prescribed or take them for reasons other than those that the drugs are prescribed for. However, OTe drugs have the highest likelihood of misuse and abuse. Misuse and abuse of OTe products is quite common in Kenya and the objective of this study is to ascertain the extent and identify culprit drugs. This study also looks into the rational use of these products, their effect on underlying disease conditions and interactions with other drugs. The majority of health care professionals do not enquire about these interactions while there is rampant misuse and abuse of OTC drugs that may induce significant medical problems. The principles of rational drug use call for correct diagnosis of the problem followed by identification of the most effective and least toxic drug for managing the condition.