Health experts discuss efficient drug information

Lack of efficient approach to providing drug information to patients was one of the many subjects discussed during the fourth annual health conference in Thimphu last week.

Head of the Sorig Menjong Pharmaceuticals, Sherab Tenzin, said that drug information was essential to ensure patient safety, especially in an era when the safety of traditional medicines was questioned.

“From the study it was found that to this day drug information was given through verbal explanation, which was not the most effective method,” he said

The quality of drug information services and monitoring of medication adherence and adverse drug events was poor and required diversification and adoption of appropriate modern tools, he said.

A cross-sectional survey was conducted at the National Traditional Medicine Hospital (NTMH) in Thimphu to understand the level of patients’ knowledge and their practices in relation to traditional medicine and their adherence to medications.

It was also conducted to know about the side effects of the drugs.

The data was collected between November and December last year at the National Traditional Medicine Hospital (NTMH).

Patients’ knowledge were tested on four themes which include the indication of the medicine, when to take, how to take, and what to avoid.

Of about 87 percent of the patients who got verbal information about the drugs, 30 percent said that the information was either unclear or inadequate according to the study.

He said that traditional medicine was relevant and popular especially among patients diagnosed with chronic diseases. “Traditional medicine is rooted in the millennia-old Four Medical Tantras and much of the drug information in these texts is accessible only to traditional medicine practitioners (Drungtshos and Menpas).”

World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that more than 50 percent of all medicines were prescribed, dispensed, or sold inappropriately and that about 50 percent of patients failed to take their medicines adequately.

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He said that drug information included information on use, dosage, side effects, drug interactions and other important information. “Drug information could be disseminated through medication slips, advice by healthcare providers, drug information leaflets and media.”

He said that in 2016, NTMH provided services to about 34,481 cases.

Recommendations include effective communication and consultation, especially with the elderly population, which was crucial in ensuring the rational use of the prescribed medicines and exploring and introducing medication adherence assessment tools, among others.

Rinchen Zangmo

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