By Benazir Ahmed Siddique
Pharmacist, International Marketing Manager
PV Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Vietnam
All of we know that, if we are sick then need to take medicine, but many people do not feel to take medicine in proper way. Our negligence can turn life-saving medicine into life-killing poison. The first irregularity we do in taking medicine that is not taking the Physician’s advice. Many cases we treat ourselves, sometimes consult with relatives, sometimes friends, sometimes rely on medicine sellers than Physicians. The thought ‘that people got better with such medicine, so I will also get better’ works within us. However, if the symptoms are same, there is not saying that the disease is same. Again, the dosage of the same drug for the same disease may vary from patient to patient.
Many times we are completely unaware of the serious, sometimes life-threatening side effects of medicines. So, without proper consultation and checking many of us are taking steroids to gain weight or enhance beauty and vitamins to increase strength. Consequences of these may fatal for anyone’s life. Sometimes we don’t aware of taking medicine on time, before or after eating, drinking enough water. In particular, we are completely negligent to the dosage and administration of antibiotics. The worst scenario is stopping the medication. We stop the medicine by ourselves thinking that ‘fever is cured, what is the need for antibiotics?’ On the other hand, if the fever does not improve after a few days, we stop it thinking that the medicine is not right and go to another Physician hoping for a new medicine. In diseases that require long-term or lifelong medication, we stop it when the disease is under control, not realizing that the disease is not cured, only under control. We do not follow the same rules when stopping the medicine as when starting it. Medicines that cannot be stopped suddenly, but we stop them by ourselves.
What harm can be caused by abuse of medicine? First, taking medicine for the disease will not relieve, but may worsen it. The emergence of drug-resistant bacteria poses the most serious threat in this regard. Misuse of antibiotics makes them ineffective against bacteria. Diseases that could have been cured in the beginning with the right antibiotics are no longer possible due to misuse, new expensive drugs are needed, and sometimes they don’t even work. This is particularly true of tuberculosis, where medication is required for at least six months, while many stop taking it after a few months and feel ‘well’. It then develops into fatal multi-drug resistance tuberculos which is extremely difficult to control. The financial side is also important to be considered. Not only for bacterial infections, but also for high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, fungal infections, etc., the misuse of medicine does create more harmful effects. Many medicines become ineffective if they are not taken regularly. Taking the medicine on an empty stomach is the same as taking it on a full stomach. Also, in many cases, one drug does not work in the presence of another drug. Taking these medicines together on the advice of an ignorant person will not be beneficial, but there is a risk of harm.
Another problem with medication is side effects. A Physician or Clinical Pharmacist knows very well, what is the problem of any medicine and therefore to whom it can be given and to whom not. These considerations are not possible by taking medicine on its own, so the risk of side effects is high. Diarrhea often occurs after taking medication for pain management. Taking steroids to gain weight develop severe Cushing’s syndrome, which is lifelong. It is important to note that many people are at risk of suddenly stopping drugs without a Physician’s advice, especially if steroids are suddenly stopped, it can lead to Addisonian crisis, from which the patient may die. Common medications, many of which are available without a prescription, can also be harmful in certain situations. Many of us don’t know that common medicines like vitamin A or deworming drugs can seriously harm the unborn child. Medicines like paracetamol can cause harm to liver patients. When the Physician gives the medicine to the patient, he/she should tell the patient whether the medicine has any side effect. Then the patient will also be aware about taking medicine.
What patients should follow to overcome this situation:-
- Medicines can be taken only by the advice of a Physician.
- In special conditions (such as pregnancy, liver disease, etc.) common medicines that are available without a prescription should also be used by the advice of a Physician.
- Medicines should only be purchased from Pharmacists. Check its expiry date while buying. Remember, expired medicines can do more harm.
- Follow the rules of medicine prescribed by the Physician (how much medicine, how often, how many days, before/during/after food, etc.). Write it down if necessary or ask someone else to help you remember it. Do not change the dosage of the drug yourself.
- Many people buy medicine from the Pharmacy after taking the Physician’s prescription and showing the prescription again and again. In this case, it should be remembered that the medicine can be taken for as many days as prescribed in the first prescription. Again the same disease that same medicine may not work.
- Don’t take pain medication or antibiotics without Physician’s advice
- Do not stop taking medicine by yourself. The course should be completed even if you feel healthy. If there is any problem, consult with a Physician.
- Simultaneously allopathic and other methods of treatment should be informed to the Physician.
- Always keep the medicine away from light, in a cool, dry place, out of the reach of children. Some medicines need to be refrigerated. Be aware that it loses its effectiveness if not stored at the specified temperature.
- Many times the shopkeepers give other medicines of other companies, saying ‘same medicine’, just to sell them instead of the prescribed medicines. In this case, patients should be careful and buy the medicine with the name mentioned in the Physician’s prescription.
- Be more careful with children and the elderly. They require extra caution regarding dosage, eye drops or ointments, and the route of injection (eg: intramuscular or intravenous).
Along with this, it is the duty of the medicine seller to sell the medicine according to the prescription, not to sell any medicine just for the sake of business. It is also the responsibility of the authorities to monitor compliance and overall supervision of the sale of medicines in the shops. Actions need to be taken to save ourselves and future generations from medicine abuse, especially antibiotic resistance.