Objectives: To determine the prevalence of selfmedication and assess the knowledge, attitudes, and perception of consumers toward self-medication. Methods: This cross-sectional survey was conducted over 4 weeks in May 2011 in Riyadh city, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Community pharmacies within 5 areas of the city (North, South, West, East, and Middle) were randomly selected for the study. All consumers were approached to participate in the study, with the exception of those buying cosmetic and medicinal equipments. A validated self-administered questionnaire was used to collect the data. Results: A total of 538 out of 707 consumers attending community pharmacies in Riyadh city, agreed to participate in the study. Most responders were male (73%), 23-33 years old (35%), and college graduates (42%). A total of 285 medications were bought without a prescription. Of these, 149 (49%) medications should be dispensed by prescription only, and 155 (51%) were over the counter medications. The most common prescription medications dispensed without prescriptions were antibiotics (22%) and analgesics/antipyretics (19%). The most common reasons for buying medications without a prescription were that the symptoms were too minor to visit a doctor (54%), time saving (40%), and minor illnesses for which the participants knew the required treatment (40%). Overall, most participants had poor knowledge, and negative perceptions regarding selfmedication. More than 68% of participants did not know whether the medicine they bought is a prescription-only or over the counter medication. Conclusion: Irresponsible self-medication is common in Saudi Arabia. Future studies should focus on improving the consumers’ awareness of self-medication and the proper use of medications.
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