This study was aimed at assessing the extent of dispensing prescription-only medications without a prescription in community drug retail outlets (CDROs) of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
A descriptive cross-sectional observational study design was used to sample 31 pharmacies, 25 drug stores, and two rural drug vendors from August 11, 2015, to October 21, 2015, through a simple random sampling method. A simulated-patient method of visit was implemented to collect data. Requests of six tracer prescription-only medicines (amoxicillin + clavulanic acid capsule, amitriptyline, captopril, glibenclamide [also known as glyburide], omeprazole capsule, and sildenafil citrate) and upper respiratory tract infection were selected as the simulated clinical scenario.
Amoxicillin-clavulanic acid capsule was dispensed when requested in 87.93% of the dispensaries. All of the CDROs dispensed omeprazole upon request. Sildenafil citrate (Viagra) was in stock in 96.55% of the CDROs, all of which issued the requested number of tablets without asking why or for whom the drug was needed. Amitriptyline, captopril, and glibenclamide (glyburide) were dispensed in 84.48%, 89.65%, and 87.93% of CDROs upon the provision of an empty container. Antibiotics were obtained from 75.86% of CDROs for presentation of upper respiratory tract infection symptoms. Among the dispensed antibiotics, the most common was amoxicillin (93.18%), followed by amoxicillin-clavulanic acid capsule (72.72%), and azithromycin (50%). Only 4.5% of the dispensaries asked about drug allergies, and 15.9% of the CDROs informed the simulated patient about the possible side effects of the drugs.
This study revealed a very high rate of dispensing of prescription-only medicines without a prescription. Antimicrobials and drugs for chronic diseases were obtained with ease from almost all of the randomly sampled CDROs. Putting good dispensing practice into effect and adhering to the existing national laws and regulations regarding the same are necessary. It is also necessary to adopt a strong and explicit line of action, especially toward the irrational use of antibiotics.