Mirna Radošević, mag. pharm., univ. spec. oec.,
Croatian Association of the Self-Medication Industry

After more than two years of committed work by a generous group of individuals, led by an internal passion to promote the pharmacist profession, we have before us the first edition of a book in the form of a manual on the topic of self-medication and intended for the entire pharmacy team. The aim of the manual is to assist all members of a pharmacy team in managing patients with minor health problems and provide users of pharmacy services with an optimal solution for their minor health problems.

Self-medication is increasingly becoming an effective way of improving and preserving health.

As a method for treating milder illnesses, it not only involves treating the symptoms of illnesses by taking over-the-counter drugs, but also a readiness by the individual to take responsibility for their own health, preserve and take care of their health, and also know how to get the necessary information, i.e., the right help at the right time. Research has shown that better informed individuals are more inclined to self-medication. Besides the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare workers are also an important factor in the further development of self-medication. Doctors should recommend self-medication to patients with minor illnesses, whereas pharmacists should allocate the time to advise about symptoms stemming from minor health problems and measures for responsible self-medication.

Despite the large amount of available information and number of professional educational courses, in practice we have seen that there is a large ‘gap’ in the area of self-medication advice. We are all often overburdened with data we receive, and for fear of not making a mistake, we filter out only the most important information with great difficulty and withdraw from properly communicating with users of pharmacy services. This approach creates an image of pharmacists as sellers, not advisors, which in fact is what we are. It is our intention that the book offers help, assistance and safety in self-medication as a healthcare manual in which the pharmacy team has a key role and possesses the strongest competencies.

The Manual contains an introduction and 37 chapters in which we describe the most frequent minor health problems encountered by pharmacy teams on a daily basis in their work with users of pharmacy services. The introduction talks about self-medication in general terms, including regulations and safety in administering over-the-counter products. We divided the chapter into 10 systematic sections for easier reading. The concept of each chapter is the same, enabling the reader to easily follow the presented information. Each healthcare problem is viewed through 9 segments: description of the indication, role of the pharmacy team in self-treatment, collecting important information in recognise symptoms, guidelines for action based on specific symptoms, preparations for self-treatment, other therapy possibilities, additional advice, situations in which self-medication is not recommended and additional literature. 

The manual is the result of collaborative efforts from a large group of pharmacists with extensive experience in everyday work with patients, representatives of the pharmaceutical industry, family doctors and the Croatian Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices, Croatian Institute of Public Health, Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry at the University of Zagreb and the Croatian Medical Chamber. The authors have adapted their work to the proposed concept and you now have before you content which we hope will be part of your practice on a daily basis and of great benefit in educating you but also new generations of pharmacists. To adapt to specifically these newer generations of pharmacists, we are also preparing an online version of the manual.

A great thanks to all those who have participated and for the general support which you have shown in preparing the first Croatian Self-Medication Manual.