Prevalence and factors associated with self-medication for COVID-19 prevention using disproven drugs in Peru: a cross-sectional nationwide study

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Akram Hernández-Vásquez
Fabriccio J. Visconti-Lopez
Dustin M. Solorzano-Salazar
Antonio Barrenechea-Pulache


COVID-19, Self Medication, Cross-Sectional Studies, Nonprescription Drugs


Objective: The objective of this study was to identify the prevalence and factors associated with the use of drugs without evidence for the prevention of COVID-19 in Peruvians without symptoms or diagnosis, using the National Household Survey (ENAHO) 2021. Methods: A secondary analysis was made of the ENAHO 2021. We evaluated participants older than 18 years who did not undergo any test to diagnose COVID-19 and used any drug to prevent COVID-19. Adjusted prevalence ratios (aPRs) were estimated to determine the associated factors. Results: Among the 69,815 participants analyzed, the prevalence of taking a drug 4 weeks prior to the survey was 5.64%. Factors associated with drug consumption were: age 30-59 years (aPR 1.47; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.32-1.65); having a higher education (aPR 1.73; 95% CI:1.28-2.33); having a chronic disease (aPR 1.40; 95% CI: 1.26-1.56); not having poverty status (aPR 1.40; 95% CI: 1.26-1.56); living in an urban area (aPR 1.61; 95% CI: 1.31-1.99). Meanwhile, living in the highlands (aPR 0.77; 95% CI: 0.60-0.97) and not having a landline, cell phone, television or internet at home (aPR 0.65; 95% CI: 0.43-0.98) were protective factors from unnecessary drug consumption. Conclusion: It is concerning that even after one year of living with the pandemic and having refuted the utility of medications such as ivermectin and azithromycin, these drugs are still widely consumed by a sector of the population without symptoms or a diagnosis of COVID-19. Therefore, it is necessary to formulate and implement public health measures that address this problem, taking into account the associated factors to reduce this consumption.

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