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Self-medication: what is it?

We find no definition of self-medication in the Code of Public Health because it is not a treatment but a behavior, practiced by 80% in certain circumstances. It is to prescribe self-medication without medical intervention. This implies that one feels able to take care of themselves independently for minor illnesses (colds, headaches, sore throat, constipation, skin problems, hemorrhoids).

Without a clear definition, it is difficult to ensure the safety of self-medication, even if the drugs known as "non-mandatory requirement" received authorization on the market (AMM) as any medicine. This ensures their clinical efficacy, therapeutic and toxicological.

What products are self-medicating?

Drugs that are freely available without a prescription. They cover products family medication, officinale, consulting, specialty consumer and prescription drugs optional. This represents 6.1% of total drug market (figures Afipa 2007).
For example, the elderly consume preferentially self-medication: analgesics to alleviate pain phenomena present in 45-70% of them, osteoarticular pain related to aging in particular, anti-inflammatory, laxatives, sedatives and anxiolytics.

What are the legal and health issues?
Practiced at all times, self-medication, the legitimate autonomy or risky that is attributed the citizen is encouraged today by the expansion of patient associations and the delisting of a number of medications (analgesics, syrups, veinotonic). Its apparent advantages (saving medical consultation and non-reimbursement by Social Security) are qualified because of the extra cost of adverse drug necessitating hospitalization (128 000 cases per year) or resumption of treatment by a physician.

Self-medication commits the responsibility of the individual, but also of the pharmacist in providing medication without medical prescription, must remember to use the right (art. R. 5015-1 of the Code of Public Health).

What should beware when we automedique?
The usual risks associated with prescription are strengthened.
1. The risks of intolerance and drug interactions are described in the warnings contained in the Vidal ® dictionary of self-medication, or medication records. Adverse effects of drugs are twice as likely after 65 years, while two-thirds are preventable.
2. Poor adherence: it involves half the elderly.
3. Misuse of a product: 60% of subjects aged well believe bronchial inhaler use, for example, when they are only 10% successful maneuver.
4. Risk of severe intoxication: a little over 3% of hospitalizations were related to an iatrogenic (caused by an incident care) drug! According APNET (National Association pedagogical teaching therapeutic) of 109 accidents that led to hospitalization, 8 are related to self-medication: 5 painkillers (analgesics), 2 non-steroidal anti-inflammatory.

This is all the more reason to fear that the patient does not specify what the doctor is already on its own behalf. The accumulation of drugs the doctor and the patient who is very risky.

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