Irrational use of medicines is a global phenomenon. Rational use of drugs may be defined as: Patients receive medications appropriate to their clinical needs, in doses that meet their own individual requirements, for an adequate period of time, and the lowest cost to them and their community. Overuse, polypharmacy and incorrect use of drugs are the most common problems of drug use today. Irrational use of drugs may result due to various reasons at various levels including the prescribing errors and over the counter drugs. Irrational use of medicines may lead to serious negative health and economic consequences. Many irrational drug combinations are available in the Indian market. Proper implementation of rational use of drugs will improve the quality of life and result in better community healthcare.
The Alma-Ata declaration, during the International Conference on Primary Health Care in 1978, reaffirms that health is a fundamental human right and the attainment of the highest possible level of health is a most important worldwide social goal. 1 Medicines are an integral part of the health care system and modern health care is unthinkable without the availability of necessary medicines. They not only save lives and promote health, but prevent epidemics and diseases too. Medications are undoubtedly one of the weapons of mankind to fight disease and illness. Accessibility to medication is a fundamental right of every person. 2
Ever since the accessibility of modern medicine increased all over the world, increasing incidents of its misuse in the form of overprescribing, multi-drug prescribing, use of unnecessary expensive drugs, self-medication and overuse of antibiotics and injections have started. Thus, medications are starting to be misused.
Irrational drug use is a global phenomenon now. Medically inappropriate, ineffective and economically inefficient use of drugs occur all over the world. The scenario in developing countries is the worst. According to the reports of NRHM India, irrational drug use is a widely pervasive, irrational practice of medicine and is a matter of serious concern, especially for a developing country like India. 3, 4
The concept of rational drug use is age old, as evident by the statement made by the Alexandrian physician, Herophilus, in 300 B.C that “Medicines are nothing in themselves, but are the very hands of god if employed with reason & prudence”
In simplest words rational use means “patient receiving appropriate drug to clinical needs, in adequate dose for the sufficient duration and at the lowest cost possible.” As per the WHO (1985), the definition of rational use of medicines – “Patients receive medications appropriate to their clinical needs, in doses that meet their own individual requirements, for an adequate period of time, and at the lowest cost to them and their community.” 6,7
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