Pharmacists’ Perception of the Sale of Non-Clinically Proven Health Supplements in Penang, Malaysia

  • Mohamed A Hassali
  • Fahad Saleem
  • Tahir M Khan
  • Hisham Aljadhey
  • Maryam Farooqui
  • Noman ul Haq


Purpose: To explore community pharmacists’ perception of the sale of non-clinically proven health supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) products available in Penang, Malaysia.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey using a self-completed postal questionnaire was conducted in July 2010 among 200 community pharmacists practicing in Penang Island.
Results: Fifty six pharmacists participated in the study (response rate, 28.0 %). A total of 10.7 % respondents indicated that the sale of non-clinically proven products result in high profit. Only 25.0 % of the pharmacists believed that non-clinically proven OTC products are effective, while 35.7 % thought that it is not ethical to sell these products. A majority of the respondents (94.7 %) agreed that manufacturers’ advertisement have a huge effect on positive consumers’ behaviour towards such products. Most respondents agreed that manufacturers of these products claim that their products are effective (57.1 %) and have few
or no side effects (60.7 %).

Conclusions: Pharmacists who participated in the study have mixed  opinions on the efficacy and effectiveness of non-clinically proven products. There is a need for pharmacists to be well educated on the  evidence-based use of these products in order to be able to offer
appropriate advice to those who come to them to purchase the items.

Keywords: Perception, Health promotion, Urban poor, Health supplements.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1596-9827
print ISSN: 1596-5996