Self-medication is one of the world’s main health issues and the World Health Organization (WHO) has concentrated on thorough examination and monitoring of it. World Health Organization has defined self-medication as “use of pharmaceutical or medicinal products by the consumer to treat self-recognized disorders or symptoms, the intermittent or continued use of a medication previously prescribed by a physician for chronic or recurring disease or symptom, or the use of medication recommended by lay sources or health workers not entitled to prescribe medicine.”

There is a great deal of public and professional concern about self-medication activities, which has increased dramatically in recent decades, especially in developing countries. Studies reported large variations in India’s prevalence from 31 percent in 1997 to 71 percent in 2011. The type and degree of self-medication vary with culturally, socially, and educationally. Self-medication is linked with risks such as misdiagnosis, an unnecessary dosage of medications, extended time of use, resource wastage and increased resistance to pathogens. The marketing of self-medication products has increased understanding of the availability of drugs for customers and patients.

A major concern in a time of the pandemic

The World Health Organization advised on March 17 that people with COVID-19-like symptoms should avoid self-medication with ibuprofen after the French authorities cautioned that anti-inflammatory drugs might exacerbate the virus’ effects. It is fatal to medicate one’s self without having proper medical knowledge on how it should be administered.

As Chloroquine was mentioned widely as a treatment for COVID-19, a man from Arizona died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate, thinking it will prevent him from being infected with the coronavirus. The wife of the man has also ingested the drug and is in critical care. Consuming any drug without expert advice can lead to similar results and no matter how much one thinks they are helping themselves and those around them, they are not.

Similar cases of overdoses of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have been reported internationally after President Trump mentioned them as potential treatments for COVID-19 in his speech. Psychiatrists are worried about the alarming increase of these drugs as people are self-medicating which can have serious consequences, like death.