Evaluation of medicine abuse trends in community pharmacies: The medicine abuse observatory (mao) in a region of southern europe

Maria Perelló, Karla Rio-Aige, Rafel Guayta-Escolies, Pilar Gascón, Pilar Rius, Anna M. Jambrina, Guillermo Bagaria, Mercè Armelles, Francisco José Pérez-Cano, Manel Rabanal

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The misuse of medicines is a global public health concern that needs to be taken into consideration and requires actions across all government sectors and society. The aim of this study is to identify trends of drug abuse in Catalonia, a region of Spain located in the South of Europe. For this purpose, a questionnaire-based detection tool was created and implemented in 60 community pharmacies. Out of 548 questionnaires (98.4%), 64.2% of participants were men and the highest age proportion was 25–35 years (31.4%). Potential drug abuse was the highest in urban pharmacies (84.9%). The main drug class involved were benzodiazepines (31.8%), codeine (19.3%), tramadol (7.5%), methylphenidate (5.8%), gabapentinoids (5.8%), cycloplegic drops (4.4%), z-drugs (2.6%), piracetam (2.2%), dextromethorphan (1.6%) and clomethiazole (1.1%). The majority of drugs were requested without prescription (58.6%) and through probably forged prescriptions (23.7%). Slightly less than half (49.8%) of the patients request frequently to the pharmacist, especially in rural and mountain pharmacies (73.3% and 88.5%, respectively). A small proportion (10.8%) were requested with intimidation. Pharmacists only supplied in 21.7% of the cases. This study has demonstrated the suitability of the new detection system, being a useful approach to replicate in other locations with similar needs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7818
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Community pharmacy
  • Drug related disorders
  • Medicine abuse
  • Non-medical use
  • Pharmacist intervention


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