Purpose: The aim of the present study was to determine whether community pharmacists recommend appropriate medications and give valid information to pregnant women.
Methods: A total of 163 community pharmacists randomly selected in the Midi-Pyrénées area were interviewed by means of an open questionnaire. Ten scenarios were proposed concerning back pain, headache, coughs and sore-throats, fever, constipation, nausea, dyspepsia, 'venous insufficiency', allergic rhinitis and insomnia.
Results: Out of the total, 130 pharmacists accepted to answer. Out of them 94.5% reported advising homeopathy, especially for coughs and allergy. They often advised medication for pain, fever, nose and oropharynx disorders, 'venous insufficiency', dyspepsia or constipation. By contrast, they referred the women to the general practitioner for nausea and vomiting or back pain. Advice without drug dispensation was given for gastrointestinal disorders or 'venous insufficiency'. Phytotherapy only concerned 0.5-2% of the answers except for anxiety and sleep disturbances (59%), 'venous disorders'(17%) and sore-throat (9%). Pharmacists' answers were sometimes inappropriate involving (1) pharmacologically illogical advice, (2) drugs for which neither clinical nor experimental data are available and (3) drugs potentially harmful in pregnancy.
Conclusions: The present study shows that French community pharmacists do not always give appropriate advice to pregnant women. As primary health care providers, pharmacists have to improve counselling regarding drug use in pregnancy.
2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.