In 2012, Ukrainians spent 27 billion hryvnias for medicines. To compare, the income of the state budget in 2012 made UAH 246 billion, meaning Ukrainians spent almost 8% of the country's budget. Moreover, the major part of medicines was bought without concrete purpose. Why do our country fellows buy unnecessary drugs and why do we have such passion to self-treatment?

Drugstore is my sweet home

The state drugs control service of Ukraine has estimated that as of the beginning of 2013 there are about 20 thousand pharmacies working in our country. According to the head of the service Oleksiy Soloviyev, the number of drugstores in cities grew by 3.5% last year and made 14.8 thousand, and in rural areas - by 7% and made 3.4 thousand. Every drugstore in cities service 2200 people on average, and in rural areas - 2900 people.

As for the stock, Ukrainian pharmacies sell 5-9 thousand of trade names, 250 of which are aimed at prevention and treatment of ARVI and flu.

"70% of all drugs are over-the-counter medicines. In most cases, they get 'prescribed' by patients themselves under the influence of TV commercials or by recommendation of a pharmacist or neighbor," Solovyev said and called upon people to self-medicate.

In turn, head of the parliamentary committee on healthcare Tetyana Bakhteyeva told ForUm that last year Ukrainians bought 1 billion 260 million drug packages. On average, every Ukrainian, including newborns, bought about 30 drug packages and spent 600 hryvnias for the past year. The third part of the purchased drugs was bought for self-treatment, and it makes about 12 billion hryvnias.

She also underlined that Ukrainians do not even suspect that over-the-counter drugs can be dangerous and do not hesitate to take themselves and treat others. "I will give you a simple example. We all know aspirin, often used as an analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains, as an antipyretic to reduce fever, and as an anti-inflammatory medication. However, it works for people who do not have stomach problems. If a patient suffers gastric ulcer, aspirin may provoke aggravation of the disease or even cause bleeding. Acetylsalicylic acid also slows down the excretion of uric acid from the body, which may cause attack of gout among predisposed patients. That is why people should always remember that any drug is a therapy dose of poison."

Curing one thing, we die from something different

According to Bakhteyeva, the paradox of the situation is that the consumption pattern of drugs does not correspond to the morbidity and mortality pattern.

Thus, cardiac-vascular diseases kill 450 thousand people annually - about one thousand and half people every day. Cancer and related diseases kill 250 people per day (90 thousand per year). The so-called external reasons, like injuries and poisoning, kill 60 thousand people annually (160 people a day). At the same time, the major part of sold medicines makes drugs for digestive system and metabolism (Mezym, Festal, Espumizan), for respiratory system (Coldrex, Amizon, Arbidol). The top selling drugs also include Actovegin, Cardiomagnyl, Essentiale and drotaverine.

"The most selling drugs are those advertized on TV and other mass media. Being influenced by commercials, the population invents diseases and starts self-treatment. People buy cure for one disease, but die of another one. None of the people believing in charmlike drugs advertized on TV actually thinks how dangerous this drug can be if you do not know the real condition of your organism. Requirements to similar commercials must be tougher," she believes.

People, be careful!

As we can see, specialists are sure that TV ads are the trigger that pushes people to self-medicate. In this respect, the Healthcare Minister has set a list of over-the-counter drugs, advertisements of which is banned. The list includes 326 names, and 140 of them are drugs of domestic production.
Medicines, not included in the list, are allowed on TV but with certain restrictions. Thus, every commercial of a drug must be accompanied by a warning "Self-treatment may be dangerous for your health". The text of the warning must cover 15% of the area/length of the whole commercial.
However, these new rules concern official advertisement only. No legislation is able to ban word-of-mouth advertising. In this case, only a patient himself can decide whether to waste money for an unnecessary or even potentially dangerous drug.

For those still in doubt we have some food for thought. The Word Health Organization states that death of incorrect or uncontrolled self-medication is in top-5 death causes in the world. Moreover, health rate of the total population of the planet keeps deteriorating. In the future people may start dying of a simple scratch, as due to uncontrolled use of medicines, bacteria become more resistant to drugs and many antibiotics no longer work. Meanwhile, cases of overdose happen more frequently, and every seventh case leads to chronic diseases and physical disability. Which means...
Yulia Artamoshchenko


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