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Majority of adults in Finland regularly take prescription medication, survey finds

Nearly one-fifth of respondents said they were only vaguely aware of why they use their medication.

Aspiriini-tabletteja.
File photo of pills on table. Image: Ray Tang / AOP

More than half of adults in Finland regularly use at least one prescription medication, according to a survey commissioned by the Association of Finnish Pharmacies.

More than one-third of respondents between the ages of 18-24 said they took medication regularly, compared to 81 percent of older survey participants.

Nearly everyone who took part in the survey who had regular prescriptions said they knew why they used them. Some 78 percent said they were fully aware of the reasons they take the drugs.

However nearly one-fifth of respondents, some 18 percent, said they were vaguely aware of the reasons they were prescribed meds. For example, on reason for certain prescriptions is to keep blood pressure within certain levels. If a fifth of the population isn't exactly sure about why they're taking medication, they might not know what the ultimate goal is.

Room for improvement

Pharmacy association director Charlotta Sandler said that lack of awareness shows there's room for improvement within the industry.

She has suggested that pharmacy staff should help patients who are regularly prescribed medications with follow-up consultations.

The pharmacy association has suggested that prescriptions' target outcomes should be written directly on medicine labels. It also proposed that customers who pick up drugs at the chemist should be encouraged by pharmacy staff to actively track the efficacy of their medications.

This service should be free of charge, Sandler said, and should become a regular part of a visit to the pharmacy. She added that she believes people can learn how to follow up and track their prescription drug use.

She noted that some participants may well have exaggerated their knowledge of the medications they're taking, pointing to figures from the World Health Organisation estimating that only half of patients take medications as they are prescribed.

The survey on users of prescription drugs interviewed about 1,000 people in Finland with a 3.2 percent margin of error and was conducted by polling firm IROResearch.

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