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Review Article

Self-medications with potential abuse in the Middle East: a systematic literature review

Malak M. Khalifeh, Nicholas D. Moore, Pascale R. Salameh.

Self-medication (SM) is highly prevalent in the Middle East. However, regulations in the Middle East are not always enforced and therefore many prescription medicines can be purchased as SM, resulting in potential abuse of many medicines. The aim of this article, therefore, was to undertake a comprehensive review to identify the different types of self-medications involved in abuse in the Middle East and to identify harms related to SM abuse. An extensive review of the published literature pertaining to the subject (1990–2015) was conducted using PubMed, Web of Science, Cochrane and Google Scholar databases for OTC medication abuse in the Middle East. Twenty two papers were identified. Medications involved in SM abuse included: psychoactive prescription-only medicines, codeine-containing products, tramadol, anabolic steroids, sedative antihistamines, decongestants and laxatives. Moreover, studies in the region rarely reported harms related to SM abuse and strategies to limit this abuse. Potential SM abuse involving a range of medicines is a public health problem in the Middle East. Future interventions and regulations should be applied to limit the expansion of SM use and potential abuse.

Key words: Abuse, Middle East, Over-the-counter, Self-medication

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