Better Drug Information for Teenagers Needed

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At the International Pharmaceutical Federation tomorrow, it will be presented to the delegates that a large number of teenagers frequently take medicines and drugs without full knowledge of its risks and benefits. This is a result of a current research pioneered by Dr. Priya Bahri.

According to Bahri, about 35% of males and 45% of females from both the Europe and USA, who are in their teenage years, take painkillers to fight headache every month. Apart from the headache drugs, they also take other medications for stomach aches, nervousness, asthma, sleeping disorders and pregnancy prevention. Furthermore, Bahri says that most of these teenagers take medicines appropriately, but there is evidence of abuse of misuse of these drugs.

“At a time when young people want to be independent of their parents and make their own decisions about their bodies and medications, they feel misunderstood by healthcare professionals, have concerns over side effects and may be confused by information coming from a variety of sources such as their friends, their family, the internet, the news, and the healthcare professionals they encounter”, says Bahri who is also the lead for Pharmacovigilance, Guidelines and Risk Communication at the European Medicines Agency.

In the process of being teenagers, it is imperative for him or her to show autonomy and identity. Part of this includes making his or her own decisions about their health. Most frequently, teenagers make use of drugs for asthma and pain relief medications like ibuprofen and paracetamol. Each month, 35 to 45% of teenagers make use of pain killers for headaches, 32% use medications for stomach aches and six percent for nervousness and insomnia. Apart from that contraceptive pills are also highly accessible for teenage girls, and are expected to be used by about a quarter of teenage girls at a global pace. They may also be given HPV shots for cervical cancer.

Dr. Bahri is investigating on the proper information dissemination of these medications to teens but consequently found out that there is very little information or research conducted on the said area. More than that, it was also found out that health care professionals like doctors, nurses and pharmacists have to improve themselves on the way they deal with young people in discussing the risks and benefits of medicines.

It was shown that even if pharmacists and other health care professionals are aware of the importance of talking to teenagers about the risks and benefits of drugs, they tend not to do it. She will also advocate to the Congress the importance of discussing the benefits and detriments of taking medications to improve academic performance.

Like in any other field, proper communication between health care providers and clients is very vital. This is true not only to the individual but also to his or her family in case the teenager is the most literate and well-versed about the discussion.

In closing, Dr. Bahri said that “Effective communications with teenagers at the individual and population level is vital, and pharmacists should consider investigating the use of text messages, social media and other web-based forms of communication with this age group, in addition to more traditional methods. We need to bear in mind that some research in different regions of the world has shown that teenagers still expect most information to come directly from their healthcare providers, but not necessarily from pharmacists.”




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