[The over the counter drugs reform in Israel--two years later].

Sharona Vaknin*, Ifat Abadi-Korek, Eli Marom, Joshua Shemer, Osnat Luxenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the last two decades there has been a world wide increase in the number of drugs that are being switched from the prescription-only category to non-prescription categories. In Israel, until recently, non-prescription medicines were only permitted to be sold by a pharmacist in pharmacies. In May 2005, following amendments to the law, several non-prescription medicines which were previously sold under a pharmacist's supervision, were reclassified as general-sales-list (GSL) medicines and permitted to be displayed and sold directly off the shelves in pharmacies and in other places such as grocery stores and petrol stations. To study the change in the patterns of consumption of non-prescription drugs in Israel two years after the reform began. A representative sample of the population of Israel was chosen and interviews were conducted at two time points: before the reform commenced and two years after the beginning of the reform. Statistical processing was performed in order to examine the changes in patterns of consumption of non-prescription drugs in Israel between these two time points. In both surveys it was found that: approximately 70% of the Israeli public buys non-prescription medicines; 70% of the people interviewed said that they had been aware of the reform, but of these, about 75% continued buying nonprescription drugs from the pharmacist while 21% bought medicines off the shelves at the pharmacy and 4% purchased medications at grocery stores. The most common reasons for buying medicines off the shelves without a pharmacist were earlier knowLedge about the medication, convenience and availabiLity when the pharmacies were closed. An insignificant difference was observed for the purchase of non-prescription drugs from the different types of pharmacies: the health maintenance organizations (HMO) pharmacies continue to be the leading pharmacies from which the public purchased their non-prescription medicines, white there was a slight increase in the purchases from pharmacy chains. In the two surveys, the purchaser's personal experience was the biggest factor influencing the decision to buy a certain drug, followed by the doctor's and the pharmacist's recommendation. Only 15% thought that non-prescription medicines are not safe. Two years after the reform began no breakthrough was observed in the pattern of purchase of non-prescription medicines. Despite exposure to the reform, most Israelis continue to buy these medicines from the pharmacists. Therefore, it appears that more time will be needed for this reform to actually start making an impact and changing the habits of Israeli consumers when purchasing non-prescription drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-8, 70
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


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