Aims and objectives. To gain information concerning disparities in the understanding of the counterfeit medicines phenomenon between healthcare workers and lay persons.
Background. Central-eastern Europe is facing significant challenges in combating a multi-billion euro, and often lethal, trade in counterfeit medicines. It is a major challenge especially for primary healthcare workers to expand the understanding of counterfeit medicines to the benefit of patients.
Design. Use of questionnaires. Two separate questionnaires were distributed, one for healthcare professionals and the other for lay persons.
Methods. Conducted between September 2009-May 2010. One thousand and seventy-eight primary healthcare professionals and 377 lay persons were surveyed.
Results. Findings revealed less awareness among healthcare professionals than lay persons about the danger of purchasing illegal medicines or dietary supplements outside pharmacies. Healthcare professionals have lower levels of awareness about the scale of counterfeit medicines as well as threats of counterfeit medicines to health than lay persons. The majority of medical workers do not know the procedure for reporting suspicious medicine and do not warn their patients against purchasing medicine from unknown sources.
Conclusions. Primary healthcare workers have less awareness of the scale of the counterfeit medicines phenomenon than lay persons.
Relevance to clinical practice. Nurses and physician need to become aware of the counterfeit medicines phenomenon. Nurses are well positioned to assume the active role in educating patients about the threat of the presence of counterfeit medicines so as to enhance safety for their patients. However, to accomplish that aim, these findings suggest that healthcare professionals need to become better educated about counterfeit medicines and need to be trained in skills to identify counterfeit medicines.