Warning over self-medication

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The Independent Online
Doctors, nurses and pharmacists are today warning people to seek professional advice before using over-the-counter medicines.

They say that although advertisements can help people decide which medication to use, this should not be a substitute for asking for help.

The warning from organisations representing the three professions including the British Medical Association, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Royal College of Nursing is in response to the growing number of people who are turning to non-prescription medicines.

An official statement said: "Although advertising is helpful in informing people about the medicines available for self-medication, it should be responsible and should support, rather than inhibit, the advisory role of health professionals."

The alliance claims that medicines should not be regarded as ordinary consumer goods but special products to be stored and used with care and according to directions.

They should only be on sale if there is proper professional advice at hand, it says.

Peter Curphey, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical College, said: "Health professionals recognise that, as people are given more information about medicines in the media and are encouraged to take more responsibility for their own health status, self-medication is likely to play a much more prominent role in health care.