Americans stock up on Rx Drugs, while some look to disproven remedies to Protect against COVID-19

Americans stock up on Rx Drugs, while some look to disproven remedies to Protect against COVID-19

The School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Fairleigh Dickinson University recently surveyed adults nationwide about their worries over the availability of prescription drugs; their attitudes toward the role pharmacists could play in providing care and potential treatments; their knowledge of how the virus spreads, and what can be done to mitigate the chances of infection; and their assessment of the threat COVID-19 poses.

PR Newswire

MADISON, N.J., March 27, 2020 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the United States, its effects are being seen in the concerns and confusion of many Americans over issues related to the virus. The School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Fairleigh Dickinson University recently surveyed adults nationwide about their worries over the availability of prescription drugs; their attitudes toward the role pharmacists could play in providing care and potential treatments; their knowledge of how the virus spreads, and what can be done to mitigate the chances of infection; and their assessment of the threat COVID-19 poses. Findings suggest the following:

  • Almost half of all Americans are worried that the coronavirus will make it harder for them to get their prescription drugs, and, as a result, many are increasing their refill to a 90-day supply, as well as visiting their doctors and pharmacists for assistance. Some are taking steps that could potentially endanger their health by taking medications less often than prescribed in order to stretch out their available supply.
  • Although the vast majority of Americans know that the virus can be transmitted by coughing, some Americans believe in sources of transmission that are simply false, including mosquitos and exposure to cold weather.
  • The message of "social distancing" as a way to minimize one's risk of becoming infected is getting through, but some Americans falsely believe that taking hot baths and using alcohol/vodka on one's body will minimize the risk of being infected with the coronavirus.
  • Even though COVID-19 is a new virus, a majority of Americans would not hesitate to receive a vaccine should it become available most Americans would feel confident relying on their pharmacist for testing and treatment if their doctor was unavailable which could help relieve some of the strain on other healthcare providers.

Prescription drugs and Care Providers
As the president touts the promising nature of certain prescription drugs for treating the virus, concerns are mounting that Americans will begin to experience difficulty in getting their currently prescribed medications. The supply chain worries many, with 41% somewhat or very worried that their drugs will become more difficult to get as a result of COVID-19. Republicans (62%) and seniors (63%) are the least worried about prescription drug supplies.

"There are reasons for concern over drug shortages since China, the largest producer and exporter of active pharmaceutical ingredients, and India, a major producer of generic drugs, have both been severely impacted by COVID-19, said Julie Kalabalik-Hoganson, PharmD, BCPS, BCCCP, Fairleigh Dickenson University School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. "While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is carefully monitoring the drug supply chain, potential drug shortages will depend on the duration of the pandemic and how quickly pharmaceutical manufacturers can recover and get back to full production."

Those who are worried are taking various steps to ensure they have enough medication on hand in the coming weeks and months including, increasing their refills to a 90-day supply (53%), seeing their doctor (43%) or pharmacist (38%) for assistance, taking their medications less frequently in order to make them last longer (19%), and switching medications (8%).

"In light of the pandemic, expanding pharmacists' authority to refill prescriptions for chronically ill patients without a physician's authorization could relieve some of the stress on the healthcare system and help ensure patients have access to necessary medications," said Dr. Kalabalik-Hoganson. "Additionally, authorizing pharmacists to perform coronavirus testing could help expand patient access to tests, reduce the spread of disease, reduce visits to overflowing emergency rooms and doctor's offices, and improve patient outcomes. Since 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, point-of-care testing by pharmacists at temporary areas set up outside of drugstores will expand patient access to tests and getting them results more quickly."

The survey confirms Americans' willingness to have pharmacists provide care when physicians are not accessible. More than eight-in-ten would turn to their pharmacist for coronavirus testing (84%) and treatment (85%), with over half saying they are very likely to do so if their doctor is unavailable.

It also affirms Americans' interest in utilizing a COVID-19 vaccine, with 84 percent who say they would be likely to get inoculated if a vaccine became available. A sizable partisan difference separates Americans on this issue with fewer than half of Republicans (45%) as compared with 63 percent of Democrats who are "very likely" to do so.

How does it spread? What keeps you safe?
Information on how the coronavirus is transmitted has been widely disseminated; however, some Americans are still misinformed. While almost everyone (93%) correctly identifies coughing as a source of transmission, 17% believe exposure to cold weather puts them at risk for the virus and 13 percent say they can get COVID-19 from mosquitos – both of which are inaccurate. These disproven beliefs are more common among millennials and non-whites.

The message that social distancing is critical for stemming the spread of COVID-19 has definitely been heard. Ninety-six percent of all adults say distancing oneself from others is key to risk mitigation. Significantly fewer, but still around a quarter of all adults, also believe in disproven theories: 29 percent believe using hand dryers is effective, 27 percent believe spraying alcohol on one's body works, 24 percent say taking hot baths is helpful, and six percent believe in the use of vodka as a spray disinfectant to ward off the virus.

"While there has been a great deal of good information relayed to the public about COVID-19 facts, it is evident that many myths about the virus exist, continued Dr. Kalabalik-Hoganson. During a time of information overload, the public needs accurate sources of information in order to take appropriate measures to protect themselves and others."

Threats vs. Hype
Finally, despite the claims by some that the virus is more an artifact of media hype rather than a real threat to the nation's health, a clear majority reject this belief. Sixty-nine percent believe the virus is a genuine threat, with a quarter (26%) who distrust media accounts of the pandemic. Self-identified Republicans are the least likely to believe the virus is a threat (59%) and the most likely (35%) to distrust media accounts as compared with democrats and independents.

"This is a rapidly changing story, and the landscape has already changed from when the interviews for this survey concluded a few days ago. Still, it's notable that one-in-four are suspicious of what they're hearing about the virus," said Krista Jenkins, professor of politics and government and director of the FDU Poll. "Trust in leaders and institutions like the media is key to getting through a nationwide threat like COVID-19. Unfortunately, the American public goes into this with an already deep well of distrust for political leaders and institutions,"

Americans also give President Trump a middling grade on whether his leadership has been helpful or harmful during the crisis. When asked on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 meaning harmful and 10 meaning helpful, the average score was 5.9. Those with a HS degree or less (6.7) and Republicans (8.2) offer the highest appraisals, with Democrats (3.7) grading him the worst.

Methodology and tables can be found here:

 

SOURCE Fairleigh Dickinson University

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