Pharma & drug development

Is self-medication the future of pharma?

In recent years, the lines between different healthcare types, medical remedies and treatments have begun to blur. This has led to an increasing number of patients opting to self-medicate with over-the-counter medications rather than visit a doctor, particularly following the Covid-19 crisis. To find out if this trend could have a lasting impact on the industry, Abi Millar asks: are OTC drug options on the rise?

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the message has been clear: while people should seek medical attention in serious cases, they should otherwise self-isolate and tend to their symptoms at home. This strategy, devised to ease the burden on healthcare systems, has led many people to stock up on paracetamol, ibuprofen and other forms of over-the-counter (OTC) symptom relief. 

At the same time, people suffering non-Covid-related health complaints have been more likely to reconsider whether they really need to see a doctor. According to a study published in November, which looked at more than five million Americans’ medical records, healthcare visits dropped by 23% in March and 52% in April, compared to the same period in 2018 and 2019. While telemedicine visits rose by 4,000%, these online appointments only made up about 40% of the shortfall. 

Considering the number of vital appointments that were missed (think colonoscopies, mammograms etc), this trend is a cause for concern. However, the discussion around self-medication is a nuanced one. In many instances, self-treating minor ailments can ensure the proper allocation of healthcare resources. 

Read the rest of this article in the January 2021 edition of Pharma Technology Focus

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