Survey to assess management of abdominal pain and cramping in South African pharmacy chains

  • D A Webb Pattacus Medical Writing
  • L Jagwanth Sanofi Consumer Health Care
Keywords: survey, assessment, management, abdominal pain, cramping


Background: Most consumers with abdominal cramps and pain choose to treat them with over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Currently there are no data evaluating the approach of South African pharmacy staff to abdominal cramps and pain. The purpose of this survey was to evaluate the approach of pharmacy healthcare providers (HCPs) to abdominal pain and cramping and attitudes towards Buscopan (hyoscine butyl bromide) for treatment of abdominal cramps.

Method: An online and face-to-face survey was conducted with 142 pharmacists and 82 pharmacist’s assistants from two major retail pharmacy chains. The study was commissioned by an independent research company.

Results: Pharmacists and pharmacist’s assistants reported providing advice to an average of 13 patients with abdominal cramps weekly. The majority of HCPs recommended treatment based on symptoms, potential for drug interactions and safety. Only approximately half of consumers always followed the advice of the HCP. HCPs commonly saw patients who had taken inappropriate medication for their abdominal pain and cramping, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), paracetamol and codeine-containing preparations. Overall, 85% of pharmacists recommended Buscopan for the treatment of abdominal pain and cramping, based on perceptions of efficacy, tolerability and improvement in quality of life.

Conclusions: Consumers don’t always select an appropriate medication for abdominal pain and cramping, and require advice from a pharmacy HCP. Fostering trust and confidence is essential to ensure that the patient follows the advice given. Most South African pharmacy HCPs within these two major retail chain pharmacies recommend Buscopan as first line for treatment of abdominal cramps.

Author Biographies

D A Webb, Pattacus Medical Writing

Pattacus Medical Writing, Johannesburg, South Africa

L Jagwanth, Sanofi Consumer Health Care

Sanofi Consumer Health Care, Johannesburg, South Africa