Magazine article Drug Topics

Study Sheds Light on Doctor Recommendations of ETC

Magazine article Drug Topics

Study Sheds Light on Doctor Recommendations of ETC

Article excerpt

A recent study offers insight into how doctors prescribe over-the-counter drugs. The study was conducted by Franoise Pradel, M.S., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Pradel chose the topic and was surprised to find that very little research had been done on the subject.

"Most of the studies researched OTC drugs from the self-medication perspective. There was very little that focused on physician recommendation of OTC drugs. I felt that this was an important area, especially since Rx-to-OTC switches are increasing," said Pradel.

Pradel said she was "very lucky" to find a database of information for her study. She analyzed the 1990 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which described patient-physician interaction in ambulatory care settings. Pradel weighted the data from the survey to provide national estimates of physician recommendations of OTC drugs.

Pradel determined that doctors prescribed or recommended 68,451,613 OTC drugs in 1990, accounting for 9.7% of all drugs they prescribed or recommended. In general, primary care physicians prescribed OTC drugs more often than specialists did. OTC drugs were often mentioned by doctors practicing in the fields of obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery, gastroenterology, internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, and pediatric specialties, whereas doctors specializing in family practice, general practice, allergies, ophthalmology, dermatology, and otolaryngology rarely mentioned them. …

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