BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Appropriate storage and use of medications in households may decrease drug wastage and unnecessary hazard. The objective of this study was to investigate storage, utilization habits and cost of medications in households in Palestine.
METHODS: This is a cross sectional, anonymous, questionnaire-based study of 465 households in northern Palestine. The drug product inventory in the surveyed households was investigated and family members were interviewed.
RESULTS: A total of 465 households were assessed, 50 were excluded. The total number of drug products in the 415 households was 5,505; the mean + or - SD was 13.3 + or - 7.8. Level of father's education, presence of chronic disease and insurance coverage were the variables that showed a significant relationship with the amount of drug products found in the households. Most of the drug products (43.4%) were stored in relatively unsafe places in the house within the reach of children. Approximately one third (32.5%) of the drug products were not in their original container. The percentages of unused drug products, expired, or those with no clear expiry date were 32.7%, 17.7% and 11% respectively. Estimated drug wastage in the 415 households and nationwide would be 16,100 and 19 million USD respectively. The most common drug categories encountered in households were alimentary, musculoskeletal and anti-infective agents. The most common individual drugs encountered were: paracetamol (8.5%), ibuprofen (4.9%) and diclofenac (3.7%).
CONCLUSION: Medications were stored in large quantities in Palestinian households, and a large percentage was being wasted. Drug-use assessments and a comprehensive evaluation of the current national drug policies are warranted to curtail this problem.