WSMI Publications

The Story of Self-Care and Self-Medication. 40 years of progress, 1970-2010

Published on the 40th anniversary of the formation of WSMI (2010), the booklet reviews the evolution in the global understanding of self-care and responsible self-medication and growing areas of application over the past half century. It is illustrated with examples of self-care related initiatives by the World-Health Organisation (WHO) and other International Organizations, by the broader availability of nonprescription medicines supporting people in self-care, and by the activities of WSMI since its establisment in 1970. It would be of interest to anyone involved in healthcare policy, in particular in nonprescription products’ regulation, or to anyone with a general interest in healthcare.

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Prescription to nonprescription switch

Self-care and responsible self-medication with nonprescription medicines can play an important role in healthcare, not least in the prevention of the coming epidemic of non communicable chronic diseases. Switching more products to nonprescription status increases access to safe and effective medicines which patients can use without always having to go to a healthcare professional, thus giving people the tools to take better care of themselves through self-care.

The booklet would be of interest to anyone involved in healthcare policy, in particular in nonprescription products’ regulation. [download pdf file in English]  [download pdf file in Spanish]
Hard copies are available from WSMI. Please send a request

Advertising of non-prescription medicines to the public
A significant contributor to healthcare

Nonprescription (or over-the-counter, OTC) medicines are medicines which are approved as safe and effective for use without a doctor’s prescription.  As no healthcare professional is necessarily involved in their use, advertising directly to the public of the availability of nonprescription medicines is essential. The booklet is structured in three sections. The first and second sections review the nature and benefits of nonprescription medicines' advertising. The third section proposes a discussion on the appropriate regulation of nonprescription medicines' advertising based on a review of various countries' experiences.

For a pdf version of the brochure, click [here]. To order a print copy, please send a request to

Better regulation of nonprescription medicines

All too often in developing countries, regulation of nonprescription medicines is not clearly distinguished from that of prescription medicines. This lack of distinction places limits on achieving an optimal level of public health. Starting with clarifying the distinctions between Rx and OTC medicines, and the purposes of regulation, the booklet then reminds the reader of the benefits of greater use of nonprescription medicines. Best practice in regulation of nonprescription medicines is then discussed, and finally some material is presented on the issue of the review of existing legislation. [download pdf version

Copies in English and Chinese are available from WSMI. Please contact:

Responsible Self-Care and Self-Medication

A Worldwide Review of Consumer Surveys

This world review of consumer surveys carried out over 10 years confirms that OTC medicines are used cautiously and responsibly and that they help to educate people on the practice of healthy living habits and self-care.It summarises the striking similarities among people around the world. Feeling unwell and suffering from non-chronic ailments is a very common experience. People around the world tend to treat these conditions in much the same conservative way, about a quarter of the time turning to OTC medicines. People are becoming more confident that they have a role to play in their own healthcare and they believe that a modern healthcare system should offer inceasing opportunities to access OTC medicines. 

Download pdf version: [English] [Spanish]
Copies in English and Spanish are also available from WSMI. Please contact:

WSMI – World Medical Association (WMA) joint paper

September 2006

Dr David Webber of WSMI, and Dr John Williams of WMA, have co-authored a publication in the September issue of the Medical World Journal, entitled ‘A Discussion Paper on the Future of Self-Care and its implications for Physicians’. The emergence of self-care and responsible self-medication is of importance to physicians around the world, and this paper is designed to stimulate discussion and interaction between doctors and their representatives, and the self-medication industry.

The September issue of the journal can be viewed on

ICN monograph on self-care and self-medication

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has produced a booklet entitled “Responsible Self-Medication: Nursing Perspectives”. Nurses often being the first point of medical contact for the public, healthcare systems are increasingly recognizing the importance of their role in educating and supporting people with self-care, particularly self-medication for minor ailments, as well as for long-term medical conditions. This monograph has been developed to address some of the nurses’ interests arising from this increased responsibility.

The World Self-Medication Industry (WSMI) is pleased to have contributed to this monograph which should help nurses assume leadership to discuss with, advise and educate individuals about self-care and responsible self-medication. 

[Download pdf version]. If you would like to request a copy, please contact:

Creating a Framework for the Self-Care Consumer

This publication provides you with a brief description of the evidence behind the basis of responsible self-medication. 
You will also find examples of WSMI policy positions and illustrations of self-medication approaches taken by governments.
Copies in English, Spanish and Chinese are available from WSMI. Please contact:

Avoiding Heart Attacks and Strokes.
Don’t be a victim - Protect yourself

This 44-page booklet has been developed by WSMI in partnership with the World Health Organization, The World Heart Federation, and the International Stroke Society. Featuring two main parts “what you should know” and “what you can do”, this booklet targets the General Public, emphasizing the growing role of the individual, patient or potential patient, in the healthcare system at the turn of the 21st century.

To download the brochure in English, click here (PDF 2.70 Mb)
Copies in English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and French are also available from WSMI, please contact:

Guiding Principles in Self-Medication

Every day people throughout the world act on their own on their health - they practice self-care. In some instances they do so through self-medication. What areas can governments examine to help assure that self-medication takes place in a responsible framework ? How can governments further promote public health and assure that products designed for self-medication are safe and effective ? 
This publication represents the views of the World Self-Medication Industry (WSMI), the world federation representing manufacturers of nonprescription medicines and supplements. It discusses elements of a number of government policies for promoting better health through responsible self-medication.

Copies available from WSMI. Please contact: