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Open access

Tulaya Potaros and Suwimon Yeephu

Abstract

Background

Tramadol is classified as a pharmacist-only (restricted) medicine by the Food and Drug Administration of Thailand (Thai FDA). Because of concern about its abuse, in September 2013 the Thai FDA announced a policy to control the distribution of tramadol in community pharmacies.

Objectives

To identify tramadol dispensing practices by community pharmacists in Bangkok, their recognition of tramadol abuse and the Thai FDA control policy announcement; and opinions about the tramadol control policy.

Methods

This descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted in community pharmacies located in Bangkok. Pharmacists on duty were interviewed from September 2015 to April 2016.

Results

Data from 305 pharmacists working in 305 pharmacies revealed that tramadol, both single (tramadol alone) and combination (tramadol plus acetaminophen) formulations, was available in 185 pharmacies (60.7%). Most pharmacists dispensed tramadol to supply regular medicine along with previous prescriptions (74%). Among 305 pharmacists, 304 (99.7%) recognized tramadol abuse in combination with cold–cough remedies and carbonated beverages can create euphoria. Most (97.7%) knew about the announcement of the tramadol control policy, and most (82.6%) thought that the policy was practical. Approximately 43% of pharmacists agreed that the policy was effective in reducing the tramadol abuse problem, whereas 36.7% disagreed. Moreover, 60.3% disagreed with rescheduling tramadol as a prescription-only medicine. In their opinion, tramadol should still be available in pharmacies, to be dispensed by community pharmacists to patients with medical necessity.

Conclusions

Further studies nationwide in Thailand are likely to be useful to represent and compare information in different parts of the country.