Background: Worldwide data indicate that self-medication is frequently used inappropriately. Although self-medication is encouraged in most of the countries by introducing over-the-counter drugs, it bears the risk of misuse of drugs issued on prescription due to low observance of legislation of medicines requiring prescription by some pharmacies.
Objective: The objective of this study was to explore the self-medication practice, with an emphasis on self-medication with prescription-only medications.
Setting: Households in Novi Sad city, Serbia.
Method: The study was conducted over 8 month period (December 2011-July 2012) and involved a random sample of households. The questionnaire-based study and personal insight into household drug supplies was performed by a trained interviewer. Main outcome measure Number of drugs obtained without prescription or without consulting a physician in surveyed households.
Results: The total number of drug items present in the 383 households was 4,384 with a median of 11 drugs per household. More than a half of drugs in households were prescription-only medication (58.5 %). Approximately one third of prescription-only medications were obtained without prescription. The most common drugs obtained without prescription were anti-inflammatory and antirheumatic products and antibacterials for systemic use. Ibuprofen and diclofenac were the most common self-medicated drugs. Number of prescription-only medications bought with ought prescription was significantly higher in households with children under 12 years of age compared to other types of households.
Conclusion: Our survey indicated that self-medication with prescription drugs appeared to be a rather common practice, which is far away from the concept of "responsible self-medication", especially regarding antibiotics.