Studying consumer behaviour, and understanding the motivation behind it, can be important in predicting the safety issues that might accompany the ‘switch’ of a medicine from prescription to non-prescription or OTC use. In the United States, where non-prescription status allows consumers to act independently of any healthcare professional advice, studies of ‘actual use’ intended to assess safety of a drug in the new setting routinely accompany applications for OTC switch. In this issue we feature Dr Bradford’s perspectives on the principles that should govern the conduct of this unique type of study. This paper may also be of interest to those in the consumer pharmaceutical sector outside of the US, where studies to ‘validate’ supply models involving pharmacists face many of the same challenges. We hope researchers from other parts of the world will share their work in this area with the SelfCare community.
On a related topic, Dr Replogle and colleagues report their experiences in exploring consumer interpretation of a drug label intended to determine suitability for treatment. The reasoning consumers use in making decisions based on such information is important to understand but challenging to turn into ‘data’, as this paper reports.
This issue also contains a review of the questions raised by potential self care of hypertension. We hope Dr Feldman’s view of this controversial subject will prompt others to offer their opinions on this and other extensions of self care into the traditional domains of physician-directed healthcare.
Finally, we have received an enthusiastic response to the ‘SelfCare Focus’ service. This is updated weekly to feature interesting papers on self care related topics published in other journals. If you find additional papers that you feel we should feature, we would be delighted to consider them for the service.