gms | German Medical Science

16th Annual Meeting of the German Drug Utilisation Research Group (GAA)

Gesellschaft für Arzneimittelforschung und Arzneimittelepidemiologie

19.11. - 20.11.2009, Berlin

Abuse of and dependence on non-prescription medications – the role of pharmacies

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author Sandra Neuhaus - Bielefeld University, Faculty of Health Science, School of Public Health, Department 6: Public Health Nursing and Health Science Research, Bielefeld, Germany

Gesellschaft für Arzneimittelanwendungsforschung und Arzneimittelepidemiologie e.V. (GAA). 16. Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Arzneimittelanwendungsforschung und Arzneimittelepidemiologie. Berlin, 19.-20.11.2009. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2009. Doc09gaa09

doi: 10.3205/09gaa09, urn:nbn:de:0183-09gaa094

Published: November 5, 2009

© 2009 Neuhaus.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Background and aim: The inappropriate use of medications often results in social, psychological and physical problems and is a serious public health concern. The abuse liability and dependence potential of non-prescription medications have been very rarely investigated although self-medication is widely spread in the population.

Material and method: Qualitative analysis of semi structured interviews with 5 pharmacists and 5 pharmaceutical technical assistants (PTAs) in pharmacies in 3 cities in Lower Saxony.

Results: The staff in pharmacies very often notices an inappropriate use of non-prescription medicaments in practice therefore it has the responsibility to prevent abuse of and dependence on medications. It has solid potentials and is highly motivated to manage this task, nevertheless it has to face some challenges. For example it is difficult to distinguish an appropriate use from a misuse or abuse, to communicate with the people concerned and to change their situation for the better. The staff in pharmacies attests a lack of adequate practicable strategies, concepts, materials and cooperation with other healthcare professionals.

Conclusions: It is safe to assume that the abuse of and the dependence on non-prescription medicaments will increase and entail numerous public health problems. The staff in pharmacies offers a promising potential to work against this development, but it needs more support to manage their task and to cope with the challenges. It is important to acquire practicable strategies, concepts and materials in cooperation with scientists and experts from various disciplines.