An investigation of the factors affecting community pharmacists' selection of over the counter preparations

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A postal survey of pharmacists in a random sample of community pharmacies in Great Britain was carried out to ascertain the factors which influenced their decisions when recommending a product for Over The Counter (OTC) sale. Six categories of condition which regularly present in community pharmacies were selected and the pharmacists were asked to state which first line product they would recommend for each condition, in an uncomplicated situation with no other relevant problems. Of the 1138 questionnaires sent, 635 were suitable for analysis giving a response rate of 56.7%. The recommendations were found to be appropriate in 99.7% of cases. Factors which had the greatest influence on product selection were active ingredients, evidence of product efficacy, ease of use by patient and patient characteristics such as age and concurrent medication. Economic factors such as profit, pressures of excess stock and product promotion by sales representatives were shown to have a significantly greater influence on proprietor pharmacists than the other categories of pharmacist. The results of this study suggest that in the majority of cases pharmacists' decisions on OTC drug therapy are based on clinical and patient factors and whilst commercial factors may be involved they do not compromise the quality of the recommendations.

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