Pharmacists have implored Nigerians not to see injection as a mandatory treatment option for all ailments.
They said administering injections or pills should be based on the medical condition presented and a qualified medical personnel’s decision, warning that using the wrong type of treatment option for certain ailments might lead to life-threatening complications.
Speaking with PUNCH Healthwise in separate interviews, the experts argued that except in severe or life-threatening conditions, pills have always been the first method preferred option to administer treatment to patients.
The founder of HubPharm Africa, Sesan Kareem, said taking an injection is faster because it facilitates the movement of drugs to different parts of the body, unlike pills or tablets that need to be absorbed.
He, however, noted that people with chronic conditions like hypertension should be discouraged from taking injections, explaining that some ailments require only pills and tablets.
The pharmacist said for instance, taking injections for cough is not advisable because all that is needed is a pill.
He said, “The truth of the matter is that not everyone needs an injection. Injections are most times meant for emergency situations. For example, if someone is involved in an accident, you need to save that life and you can’t waste time.
“It is not every time that you have malaria or cough, you will rush to take an injection. Pills should be the first form of treatment. There are some other conditions that you can’t even take injections for. Let’s say you have high blood pressure, are you going to be taking injections every day?
“When taking an injection, you need to make sure that it is the right dose and it is administered by qualified medical personnel. There have been instances where people take injections and it results in life-threatening complications due to lack of expertise.
“Injection is not something you just take like water; it has its own complications. Just because injection work faster does not mean it works better than pills.
“There are cases where an injection will be the best option to treat an ailment. If you have what we call Type 1 diabetes, you need insulin. You can’t take pills because it will not be effective. You need an injection. That is a case where you need an injection to maintain the quality of your life.”
On his part, the Vice Chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Ogun State Branch, Olumide Obube explained that both pills and injections are pharmaceutical products administered to the human body during an ailment.
He, however, maintained that although injection works faster than pills, it should not be encouraged if the patient can still be administered drugs orally.
Obube noted that people who have difficulties swallowing drugs or cannot take pills because of some severe conditions are to be administered injections.
“People that need injections are those that don’t have the ability to ingest drugs orally. If you don’t have the ability, you don’t have the strength, and if you have this condition that you can’t be administered drugs or medicine inside your mouth, it means they will go through another route of administration – injectables.
“Secondly, you give injectables to people that have the most severe condition. People say using the oral route is not as fast as using injectables, meanwhile, injectables are parenteral. We use parenteral routes for injectables and the most common one that we have around is intravenous – injection taken below the skin layer.
“The onset of action is that immediately you are injected with a medication, it starts working immediately without losing the drug concentration. Unlike when you use oral, the concentration must have been lost before getting to the actual point of action.
“It is not everybody that enters the hospital that needs an injection. It is not everybody that enters the hospital that needs medication also.”
On how to determine if an ailment needs injection or pills, the pharmacist said, “My advice is that whenever you go to any place for healthcare service, you don’t decide the exact thing you want, leave the professional to make the decision.
“From the conversation and counselling, the healthcare professional will eventually know through the vital signs and he knows the right route of administration needed by the person in particular.
“So, there’s no point for you to decide that it is only injection that can make you feel better; there’s nothing like that. The two ways of administering drugs have their own set of actions and duration of action. You can’t on your own conclude that injection works better or faster than the oral route.
“Oral route might have delayed set of actions, but the duration is longer because the concentration will satisfy the body’s need for a long period of time.”
Meanwhile, a study published in the European Journal of Public Health, found that oral medications have several advantages over injections, including better adherence, less risk of infection, and lower costs.
The study also found that oral medications can also be more convenient for patients since they don’t require going to a clinic or hospital for injections. Oral medications are easier to administer and can be taken at home without the need for special training.
The study discovered that with injections, it can be more difficult to make changes or stop treatment since the medication is already inside the body.
“This can be a problem if a patient experiences side effects or if the medication is no longer working as it should. Oral medications can be easily adjusted if needed.
“Another advantage of oral medications is that they can be taken on a regular schedule, which can help patients to stay on track with their treatment. This is especially important for patients who are taking medications for chronic conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure. Consistency is key to getting the most benefit from these medications.”