Unprescribed Medication Use in North Cyprus
Background and Aim: There have been increasing public health concerns about the frequency of unprescribed medication consumption in Northern Cyprus. This is the first study in Northern Cyprus related with this topic.
Methods: Patient and doctor survey questionnaires including open ended, multiple choice, likert-scale questions were administered individually to a total sample of 300 patients and 61 doctors from Nicosia, Famagusta, Morphou after being piloted on 10 doctors and 18 patients. SPSS and theme analysis (qualitative part) were used for analysis. Key issues were explored through identical questions in both of the surveys by the compare and contrast method.
Results: According to our patient results, 87% of patients bought unprescribed medication at least once during their life. 72.3% of patients have never been rejected by a pharmacist while attempting to buy an unprescribed medication. They reported the most common reason for unprescribed medication as trying to avoid “expensive doctor fees” (32%) Additionally, 48% of the doctors witness unprescribed medication users very frequently. As their main concern 55% of them reported antibiotic resistance. The most commonly used unprescribed medications are painkillers (32.9%) and antibiotics (29.3%). Sixty three percent of the patients with children buy unprescribed medication for their children whilst 95% of doctors’ have witnessed such patients. Also, we investigated the effect of easy access to prescription in unprescribed medications. A total of 77% of the patients and 93% of the doctors confirmed and mentioned the prescription pressure asserted by the patients on the doctors as a key reason.
Conclusion: Legal and public health measures should be put in place in North Cyprus to ascertain a list of prescribed medications, establish penalties for unprescribed medication sale which is also a highly suggested solution by the participants.