Main Article Content
COVID-19, Pandemic, Community pharmacist, Knowledge, Attitude, Practice, Azithromycin, Hydroxychloroquine , Antibiotic
Background: Pharmacists have an important role in providing correct information, education, and counseling to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic and other health crisis. In order to perform their duties in a correct manner, they must receive adequate and evidence-based information from official resources. Objectives: The objectives of the study were to examine the practices of community pharmacists towards dispensing drugs during the COVI-19 pandemic and assess their knowledge concerning the safety and efficacy of these drugs in managing the COVID-19 infection. Methods: This was a webbased cross-sectional study conducted through the distribution of the questionnaire via the social media through a google form. The drugs examined were azithromycin, hydroxychloroquine, dexamethasone, and certain antiviral drugs. Results: A total of 485 community pharmacists responded to the questionnaire. Pharmacists dispensed these medications based on the physician’s orders, 420 (86.6%), according to the pharmacist´s recommendations 327 (67.4%), or upon patient´s request 278 (57.3%). Azithromycin was the most dispensed drug and two thirds of the pharmacists dispensed drugs more than 10 times. Community pharmacists did not possess adequate knowledge concerning the effectiveness and safety of the drugs in the management of COVID-19 infection. In the multivariate linear regression analysis; education, type of university, and the average number of daily customers were statistically significant, p values: 0.004, 0.002, and 0.016, respectively. Pharmacists did not have a positive attitude towards dispensing drugs based on their own recommendations. More than half of the pharmacists agreed that they thought it was a correct decision to give these drugs based on their own judgment. Conclusion: Community pharmacists should not receive information from non-official sources. Strict regulations and implementation of disciplinary actions against pharmacists that dispense prescription only drugs based on their medical judgment are necessary to stop this illegal behavior. A proactive role demonstrated by the pharmacists and based on scientific facts will reduce misconceptions and hazardous behavior of self-medication using prescription only drugs based on rumors and fictitious news.
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