The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the behavior of self-medication (SM). Given the massive release of misleading information during the pandemic, some pharmacies recommend drugs such as ivermectin, azithromycin, and hydroxychloroquine that are not useful for preventing or treating COVID-19 and could expose patients to unnecessary adverse drug reactions (ADRs), drug-drug interactions (DDIs), disease masking, and antibiotic resistance.
SM with drugs advertised for COVID-19 can have consequences, and people should be aware of approved uses, potential contraindications, and ADRs. Thus, the aim of this study was to know the drug therapies including natural products and homeopathic drugs offered by Colombian pharmaceutical establishments for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, as well as the information provided on the safe use of the product.
An observational, cross-sectional mystery shopping study was carried out to determine the pharmaceutical alternatives for the management of COVID-19 offered by pharmaceutical establishments (drugstores, pharmacies, homeopathic pharmacies, and nutritional supplements stores) in Colombia, and information related to the safe use of the product. The study included 482 pharmaceutical establishments from 16 Colombian departments. Data collection was done through telephone calls to each of the establishments following an interview protocol pretending to be a patient who presents symptoms related to COVID-19.