There is little literature available on dispensing patterns and unsupervised sale of medicines from pharmacies in developing countries.
This study obtained background information on pharmacies, assessed the level of training, knowledge and dispensing patterns of pharmacy attendants in Karachi.
This is a descriptive cross sectional study with convenient sampling. A structured questionnaire was used to interview pharmacy attendants.
Of the 219 pharmacies surveyed, 62% reported more than 50 customers daily and 20% also sold items of general provision. Mean operating hours were 13. Only 24 (11%) had a visible license. On an average 3 attendants were employed per pharmacy. We interviewed one in each. Amongst the 219 interviewed, 77 (35%) were intermediate qualified and only 26 (12%) pharmacologically trained. Correct frequency of ORS administration was not known by 167 (76%) and 21% incorrectly suggested an anti-diarrhoeal preparation for viral diarrhoea in children. The knowledge of those with pharmacological training was significantly better. For respiratory tract infection in children approximately 60% did not know the correct dose of Paracetamol and Amoxicillin. Only 13 (6%) knew that Propanalol was contraindicated in hypertensive asthamatics. For Cotrimoxazole, metronidazole and lomotil only 40%, 21% and 15% respectively, were aware that these could not be dispensed without prescription.
In the absence of trained pharmacists existing pharmacy attendants should be trained to improve drug-dispensing patterns.