BACKGROUND: There is a paucity of research about patients' attitudes towards their doctor's recommending over-the-counter (OTC) remedies or about how patients respond to the doctor's suggestion to try an OTC remedy.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to ascertain the attitudes of patients to OTC drugs.
METHODS: 505 consecutive patients from each of six participating practices filled in a questionnaire.
RESULTS: A total of 2765 (91.3%) patients responded. The responses from 2624 patients were from adults and are presented here. Based on the number of valid responses to each question, 53.8% of these patients were exempt from prescription charges, 55.1% took regular prescribed medication and 24.6% stated that they used OTC remedies regularly. There were generally positive attitudes to doctors enquiring about prior OTC use as well as to doctors making OTC recommendations in the consultation. However, patients expressed fairly negative attitudes towards pharmacists making generic substitutions and were even more hostile to the idea that pharmacists should make therapeutic substitutions.
CONCLUSION: In conclusion, GPs should consider asking their patients regularly about their use of OTC medicines and also consider recommending OTC use if this is cheaper than FP10s. However, the public at present do not appear to be prepared for interventions by the pharmacist.