Self-Medication: Painkillers and Antibiotics in the US

Topic: Pharmacology
Words: 857 Pages: 3


In the last two years, self-medication has become a common medical problem in the health industry. The issue poses a challenge because it is costly for the health care system. This is because it may create dependency issues or even lead to severe side effects. Self-medication can be defined as the act of taking medicines and drugs on your initiative or on the advice of another individual without consulting a doctor. The latest increase in self-prescription of certain drugs such as Ivermectin and Iodine in the U.S. for treatment of coronavirus has raised ethical issues regarding self-medication and prescription rules in the country (Grigoryan et al., 2019). In this paper, the focus will be on prescription drugs such as painkillers and antibiotics in the U.S.

Reasons for Self-Medication

The increase in self-medication may be a result of a surge in the lack of trust in the health system. Recent scandals in the United States touching on the pharmaceutical industry have reduced the confidence that people have in the drug industry. The lack of trust has created a group of people who doubt the authenticity of the drugs pushed by the companies. Another reason may be panic as a result of fear of death. High interconnectivity because of technology has led to more access to information, some of which are not factual.

The spread of fake information has led to increased deaths due to self-medication in the past two years. For example, in the United States, people have self-medicated on ivermectin, iodine, chloroquine, and ritonavir, which has led to serious side effects and sometimes death (Gu et al., 2021). The serious side effects strain the medical system as funds have to be used to assist in the treatment of the affected individuals. The resources may be used for other pressing issues in the health care system. Thus, the increase in self-medication is a result of panic and reduced trust in the pharmaceutical industry.

Risks of Self-Medication

Self-medication is risky as it can lead to the development of serious side effects, which may result in death. In recent cases, the use of the drug ivermectin to treat Covid-19 has led to hospitalization for some patients and death for others (Agaku et al., 2021). Serious side effects include worsening the condition, drug interactions, and the development of dependency. For example, self-treatment of chronic pain using painkillers such as Oxycodone has led to addiction. Dependence on prescription drugs may lead to a rise in criminal tendencies, mood swings, mental health problems, and financial troubles.

The cost to the state health care system will be a surge in patients who have diverse health care needs. The present laws allow individuals to access the drugs at specified doses at pharmacies both online and physically (Griesler et al., 2019). In 2021 the calls to the poison control centers had increased as a result of overdoses or the development of side effects after self-prescription (Agaku et al., 2021). This indicates that it is a present problem that may become bigger if stiff regulations are not instituted. Thus, the risks of self-medication include severe side effects, worsening of the conditions, development of new conditions, and death. This creates ethical issues which necessitate the federal government and states to work together.

Reasons for Ethical Review

The state department can review self-medication as an ethical issue because most people do not have the necessary medical expertise to understand their medical condition. This creates problems for the patient and the state when a severe issue develops. Another issue that can make the state review the ethical laws regarding self-prescription is the danger it poses in creating drug addicts as a result of dependencies. The state is liable for enacting policies that regulate the ability of people to buy prescription drugs. The current laws have been exploited within the last year by different people to access prescription drugs such as Iodine, Ivermectin, and hydroxychloroquine. The drugs have been used to treat or prevent Covid-19 by people who believe the vaccines being issued have a problem.

The state can use this opportunity to enhance the number of drugs that require a doctor’s prescription. Self-prescription is mainly caused by ignorance and false interpretation of their symptoms (Molinero et al., 2020). It is essential for the state to establish more stringent policies on buying drugs over the counter. This will prevent the development of dependencies that are costly for the individual and the state. Patients need to seek the help of a doctor before the consumption of any drug. The doctor should be qualified and licensed to operate in the state.


In summary, self-prescription is a costly medical problem that creates ethical issues because of the problems it creates for the state and the individual. The state can intervene by altering the regulations on the purchase of drugs over the counter to make them stiffer. Self-medication creates dependencies that can lead to drug addiction, which is costly to treat. The development of severe side effects and death are other risks of self-medication. In the United States, there have been increased cases of drug overdoses and death as a result of self-prescription.


Agaku, I., Odani, S., & Nelson, J. (2021). Medical use and misuse of psychoactive prescription medications among US youth and young adults. Family Medicine and Community Health, 9(1), e000374. Web.

Griesler, P. C., Hu, M. C., Wall, M. M., & Kandel, D. B. (2019). Medical use and misuse of prescription opioids in the US adult population: 2016–2017. American journal of public health, 109(9), 1258-1265. Web.

Grigoryan, L., Germanos, G., Zoorob, R., Juneja, S., Raphael, J. L., Paasche-Orlow, M. K., & Trautner, B. W. (2019). Use of antibiotics without a prescription in the US population: a scoping review. Annals of internal medicine, 171(4), 257-263. Web.

Gu, J. K., Allison, P., Trotter, A. G., Charles, L. E., Ma, C. C., Groenewold, M., Andrew, M. E., & Luckhaupt, S. E. (2021). Prevalence of Self-Reported Prescription Opioid Use and Illicit Drug Use among US Adults: NHANES 2005-2016. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Web.

Molinero, A., de Lara, J. C., Fernández, F. C., Villena, A. E., Ríos, P. G., & Amador-Fernández, N. (2020). Oral antibiotic request without prescription in community pharmacies. Description of pharmacists’ intervention. Semergen, 46(8), 545-552. Web.

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