What about “Pharming”? Issues Regarding the Misuse of Prescription and Over‐the‐Counter Drugs

Stefania Chiappini, Fabrizio Schifano

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Recently, a range of prescription and over‐the‐counter (OTC) drugs have emerged as being used recreationally, either on their own or in combination with other substances, both licit and illicit, including new psychoactive substances (NPS). Among them, the misuse of prescription drugs involves not only traditionally recorded substances, such as benzodiazepines and opioid pain relievers, but also gabapentinoids (e.g., pregabalin and gabapentin); some antidepressants, e.g., bupropion and venlafaxine; some second‐generation antipsychotics, e.g., quetiapine and olanzapine. Moreover, the use of some OTC for recreational purposes appears on the increase, especially in vulnerable categories such as young people/youths, including the use of high dosages of the antidiarrheal loperamide; first‐generation antihistamines, e.g., promethazine, cyclizine, and
diphenhydramine; cough and cold preparations containing dextromethorphan and/or codeine. In this context, the role of the Internet has rapidly increased, playing a significant role both in the diffusion of emerging trends of drug misuse among users and experimenters, and the marketing, sale, and distribution of drugs through online pharmacies. This phenomenon within the context of a rapidly modifying drug scenario is a globally recognized health problem, determining severe adverse consequences, including fatalities, and represents a challenge for clinicians in general, psychiatrists, public health, and drug‐control policies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
JournalBrain Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2020


  • drug diversion
  • drug misuse
  • drug abuse
  • non‐medical drug use
  • pharmacovigilance
  • prescribing drugs’ misuse
  • over‐the‐counter drugs’ misuse
  • novel psychoactive substances


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