Self-care medicines are
- medicinal products that can be bought without a prescription
- research-based and safe basic medicines, mostly with a long history on the market, rarely associated with any unexpected adverse reactions
- only available at pharmacies, with the exception of nicotine replacement products.
In 2013, the pharmacy sales of self-care medicines accounted for about 11 percent of the total sales of medicines, amounting to 250 million euro at wholesale prices. The authorities do not regulate the self-care medicine prices which are determined by the competitive market.
Responsible self-care gives patients freedom of choice
Self-care medicines improve the quality of life when the medication starts without delay. The guides and instruction given by the pharmacy personnel ensure that the treatment is in line with the recommendations.
Self-medication means lower costs incurred by employers and society for the treatment of the disease or symptom. Savings are generated when there are fewer doctors’ appointments and prescriptions for medicines entitling the patient to have reimbursement. Finns who rely on self-care medicines spend less on prescription medicines.
Tapping the benefits of self-care – in a safe way
To exploit the potential of self-care medicines, it is mandatory that people know about self-care medicines and the possibilities provided by them. The pharmaceutical industry produces constantly updated information on the products they manufacture.
Pharmacies provide effective pharmaceutical and health advice. Major utilisation of this information and advice would mean better use of the self-care potentials. The selection of self-care medicines could also be somewhat wider.
It is vital to ensure medication safety. Various risk groups and their needs must be identified.
Certain self-care medicines can only be sold accompanied by guidance and instructions by the pharmacy personnel. Such potentials of limited self-care should be increasingly exploited.
Self-care potentials highlighted through co-operation
Finland should start an open-minded discussion on how self-care could be used in various ways to make the country's healthcare system more efficient.
The Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea is currently drafting a national programme for self-care medicines. Pharma Industry Finland PIF has high hopes for the programme. We are looking forward to practical measures that will enhance self-care.
The modes of operation must be developed in multi-professional co-operation. Pharma Industry Finland PIF would be pleased to collaborate and promote good self-care.