Google is not a Doctor

Bangalore City Health State Top Story

Self-medication is dangerous, warn doctors.

By Lanka Samanth

Bangalore, March 28, 2019

“In last week a patient came to me with a fungal infection on his body. After the primary diagnosis, I came to an end that the infection was severe. I asked the patient about the delay in consulting a doctor. He replied in simple terms saying that he had used an ointment and tablets without consulting doctor. He learned about the medicines through Google,” said Dr. Vijay Kumar from Bangalore.

Vijay is worried about such conditions. According to him, consuming medicines without a doctor’s consultation is highly dangerous to the patient. Like the patient mentioned above, another person approached Vijay with a severe side effect as a cause of self-medication.

According to the Indian Society for Clinical Research (ISCR) survey, out of 352 people who live in urban areas, self-medication stands at  11.9 per- cent among them. Vijay Kumar opinion is that the people preferring self-medication are increasing.

When asked about the reason behind people using self-medication, Vijay said that “One of the major factors is people are searching on Google about their health issues. Ten years ago,  this was not the case.” The other reason he mentioned is, people living in rural areas instead of consulting doctors they take medicine on the advice of a person working in a pharmacy or a medical store.

“According to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, Pharmacists are supposed to dispense Over the Counter (OTC) drugs without a prescription. Remaining drugs should be dispensed if the consumer carries an authorized medical prescription,” said Sravani Gangula, a fellow qualified in Pharmaceutical Jurisprudence.

In countries like America and the United Kingdom drugs cannot be dispensed without a prescription. Such strict rule should be implemented in India, stated Dr. Vijay.

When asked about the number of patients who buy medicines without a prescription, “Daily a lot of people come and buy medicines. A few bring prescription, and few don’t. I dispense medicines to everyone,” said a pharmacist, in Kumbalgodu.

The newspaper softcopy checked with other pharmacies, and it’s the same situation with most of them.

A doctor can diagnose the patient’s illness and prescribe specific medicines to that illness. “Doctors study for eight years about medicine. We know to prescribe specific medicine, the dose of the medicine, and course of the medicines,” said Vijay.

“A patient was given a steroid containing medicine by a pharmacist, but the patient requires anti-fungal drug for his illness. Despite the drugs, the infection spread throughout the body and finally, he consulted me for the medication,” said Vijay.

“The patient had spent ten times more because of the adverse effect of the wrong drug that he had taken and the delay in consulting a doctor. He could have saved 90 percent of his money if he would have approached a doctor to start with.”

“We are going into a serious crisis. Under self-medication, a lot of people are consuming antibiotics without concern. Antibiotic abuse is increasing, and drugs are becoming resistant to bacteria and virus. If this is the situation, we won’t have new antibiotics to replace the resisted antibiotics” said Dr. Nagendra Sharma at Manipal Hospital.

In another case in a government hospital in Bangalore, a patient is facing kidney related problems due to deregulated medication. Another patient in a private hospital had to undergo minor surgery for his dental problem.

“The government should impose strict rules on pharmacies not to dispense medicines without a prescription to regulate self-medication, said Dr. Nagendra and Dr. Vijay.

Moreover, the public particularly using Google or other search engines to take medicines should be aware of the adverse effects of self-medication.

“Let them have knowledge about their body or illness. But let them not use the medicines on them or any other humans” said Vijay.

After all, it is not an item to buy or repair again – it is the human body. Everything is precious, say doctors. They asked everyone to get rid of this drug abuse that is self-medication and promote organ donation instead.