A survey study on use of over the counter (OTC) drugs among medical students, nursing and clerical staff of a tertiary care teaching rural hospital

Devang Parikh, B. M. Sattigeri, Ashok Kumar, Shruti Brahmbhatt


Aim: The study was conducted to evaluate use of over the counter (OTC) drugs among the medical students, nursing and clerical staff of tertiary care teaching rural hospital to determine the awareness and disadvantages on use of OTC.

Methods: Responses to a feedback questionnaire covering various aspects on usage of OTC drugs were obtained from 100 medical students, 100 nursing and 100 clerical staff.

Results: Among 300 respondents, 84% used OTC, commonly purchased by self. Majority of them started self medication within 2 days of their illness. The frequently reported illness that prompted self-medication included headache, cough and cold, fever, generalised weakness, acidity, dysmenorrhoea, and sleep disturbances. Majority of them obtained OTC by mentioning name of drug (81%), 35% by telling symptom and 15% by showing old prescription. We found that 87% people share OTC among relatives and friends.

Conclusions: Usage of OTC was highest amongst medical students and nursing staff. Time consumption for consultation, the consultation fees and frequent visits were the commonly mentioned reasons for self medication. It was analysed that none of the clerical staff were aware of the drug, dose, frequency of administration and adverse reactions. While very little awareness of medication was found even among nursing staff and medical students. Therefore it is suggested that the public has to be educated on the type of illnesses to be self-diagnosed and medicated, dangers of OTC on misuse which would possibly lead to delay in detection of more serious underlying ailment and timely medication.


Over the counter (OTC), Self medication, Awareness, Misuse

Full Text:



US Food and Drug Administration. Drug Application for Over the Counter Drugs [Online]. 2012 [Updated 2012 September 9]. Available from: htpp://Fda.gov/drugs.

“Information for Consumers: Drugs Now Available Without a Prescription,” FDA website, available at http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm143547.htm. Accessed December 28, 2010.

Pawaskar MD, Balkrishnan R. Switching from prescription to over the counter medications: a consumer and managed care perspective. Manag Care Interface 2007;20:40-1.

“Quality Healthcare with OTCs,” CHPA website, available at http://www.chpa‐info.org/issues/Quality_Healthcare.aspx. Accessed on December 20, 2010.

Dineshkumar B, Raghuram TC, Radhaiah G, Krishnaswamy K. Profile of drug use in urban and rural India. In Pharmacoeconomics. India;1995. p. 332-46.

Lau JT, Yu A, Cheung JC, Leung SS. Studies on Common Illness and Medical Care Utilization Patterns of Adolescents. J Adolesc Health 2000;27:443-52.

Shankar PR,Partha P, Shenoy N. Self-Medication and non-doctor prescription practices in Pokhara valley. Westren Nepal: MC Family Practice; 2002. 3:17.

Betsy S et al. Physician-Patient Communication about Over-the-Counter medicines. Soc Sci Med 2001;53:357-69.

Hardon A, Sjaak Van der Geest. Hazards of self-medication. World Health Forum 1987;8:469-71.

Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (DCA), the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 (DCR). Available at: http://cdsco.nic.in/D&C_ACT_AMENDMENT_2008_file.pdf.

Taylor NS. Self-Medication and Information sources. France: Public attitudes to Self-Care; 2001.

Caamano, F., Fgueiras, A., Lado Lema E, and Gestalo-Otero, J.J. Self-medication: Concept and “User” Profile. Gac Santi 2000;14:294-99.

Hankar PR, Partha P, Shenoy N. Self-Medication and non-doctor prescription practices in Pokhara valley. Westren Nepal: MC Family Practice 2002;3:17.

Homedes N, Vgailde A. Improving Use of Pharmaceuticals Through Patient and Community Level Intervention. Soc Sci Med 2001;52:99-134.