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Physicians' Attitudes toward Reclassifying Drugs As Over-the-Counter

Sinikka Sihvo, Elina Hemminki and Riitta Ahonen
Medical Care
Vol. 37, No. 5 (May, 1999), pp. 518-525
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3767238
Page Count: 8
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Physicians' Attitudes toward Reclassifying Drugs As Over-the-Counter
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Abstract

Objectives. Releasing prescription drugs over-the-counter (OTC) has been a trend in many Western countries. The purpose of this study was to find out about Finnish physicians' attitudes towards OTC switches and to find out whether transfer of drugs that are used in a doctor's own area of specialty increases negative attitudes toward release. For the latter purpose, gynecologists' perceptions about the availability of vaginal antifungal OTC drugs was studied. Methods. Postal questionnaire to a representative random sample of gynecologists (n = 169) and general practitioners (GPs) (n = 288) in six counties in Finland in 1996. After a reminder, the response rate was 77% (n = 341). Multivariate logistic regression models were used to explore the relationship of factors to attitudes toward OTC drugs. Results. The overall attitude toward the availability of OTC drugs was moderately positive but was more reserved toward those drugs only recently given OTC status. However, physicians were judged in many cases to be the most suitable source of information on OTC drugs. GPs working in health centers, more often than other physicians, found drugs suitable for self medication. Our hypothesis about gynecologists being against the release of vaginal antifungal drugs was not supported. Conclusions. Physicians' views about OTC drugs are influenced by the current OTC status of the drug and by public discussion. The place of work has an important influence on these opinions, most likely reflecting the effect of case mix and patient load.

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