The irrational use of medicines is a major problem worldwide. WHO (2004) estimates that more than half of all medicines are prescribed, dispensed or sold inappropriately, and that half of all patients fail to take them correctly. The over-use, under-use or misuse of medicines results in wastage of scarce resources and widespread health hazards.
Some examples of the irrational use of medicines are,
- the use of too many medicines per patient (poly-pharmacy)
- the inappropriate use of antimicrobials/antibiotics, often in inadequate dosage and for non-bacterial infections
- the over-use of injections when oral formulations would be more suitable
- iinappropriate self-medication, often of prescription-only medicines
- the non-adherence to dosing regimes
Often, the irrational use of medicines is the outcome of inappropriate promotion and advertising by pharmaceutical companies. In addition, irrational use is costly to both consumers and governments. It is also extremely harmful to human beings as a whole.