You cannot buy them over the counter because they are strong drugs that could have dangerous side effects if misused. And they are called "prescription drugs" because a potential buyer must present an authentic prescription from a doctor, a pharmacist, or a certified medical expert to access them.
The prescribing health expert is expected (or assumed) to have studied a patient's health condition and be sure the prescribed medicine is the best (available and in the correct dosage and with tolerable side effects) for the specific health condition.
With this in mind, the patient is, at least, expected to worry less about possible side effects since the prescriber is believed to have considered the side effects before prescribing (based on a patient's health status), right?
Well, that is not precisely the case. Data harvested by the National Drug Helpline, a US-based company providing support to people suffering from addiction, confirm that globally, most people are concerned about the side effects of some prescription drugs. These concerns lead them to search online for answers.
National Drug Helpline sought to determine 20 prescription drugs that pose more concern for people globally. To get this result, it used Ahref, an online analytic tool, to gather the names of the 100 most prescribed drugs.
With the 100 drugs established, it entered the names of each of the 100 medicines into the Ahref database alongside keywords like "side effects" or "side effects of…" to establish how many times in a month an average person searched online for the side effects of each identified drug.
The 100 medicines were then ranked from lowest to the highest based on the average monthly global online search volume for people checking online for each drug's potential side effects.
This procedure turned out 20 prescription drugs people are most concerned about based on online search volume and average monthly search for side effects globally.
While Gabapentin (a drug used to treat seizures and nerve damage) topped the list with 242,300 average global monthly online searches for side effects, Metformin (for treating diabetics-related high blood sugar), Sertraline (for treating depressive and panic disorders), Amlodipine (for lowering blood pressure) and Atorvastatin (used to improve cholesterol levels) came second, third, fourth and fifth with 188,100, 152,000, 148,300, and 127,500 average monthly searches respectively.
Ibuprofen (a pain killer) took the 20th position with 53,400 average searches monthly.
See the complete list in the table below.
Briggs Bieye, a public health doctor at the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education in Rivers State, told Prime Progress that the findings show that: "These days, patients are more enlightened and have better information about their health as against years past."
Bieye said it does not suggest patients' lack of trust in prescribers because doctors also encourage patients to look up information about their prescribed drugs for better understanding and use.
"Sometimes, it's not a function of trust; it's more of getting a better understanding of the medications you're on," he said. "We as doctors encourage patients to get more information about the health and treatment given."
"This gives them a better understanding and makes them cooperate with your line of treatment as doctors. In my view, patients going back to check side effects of drugs isn't about trust but about getting more knowledge and insight about the treatment they're on."
National Drug Helpline: https://drughelpline.org/