In part two, we had a comprehensive look at some of the commonly used OTC medicines and mishaps that have occurred when using them without professional assistance. Obviously because we are on a part three, it is evident that this topic can be exhaustive and can go on and on.
We have not even looked at the possible interactions with herbal concoctions and the like yet.
In concluding the article, I will look at an area, where I feel the public is let down by albeit well meaning health professionals.
I believe Barbados is the only jurisdiction, which patients go directly to a wholesaler and purchase their prescriptions. Whilst there is legal precedent for this; what is supposed to happen is that the item is to be delivered to the doctor and then given to the patient, with instructions on how to use the medicine, or have the medicine administered. This is unfortunately not the case in too many cases where a billing clerk and a warehouse clerk are the only interface when receiving the medicines. (Not good). This practice I believe is initiated by the prescriber with all good intention; I do not think for a minute that the prescriber says to the patient, “Let’s stick to the pharmacist”. There are some medicines that are very expensive and the prescriber in trying to assist may decide to erase the other professional, in order to save money.
My contention is, that if you have developed a relationship with your pharmacist and or pharmacy, let them know that you have developed a condition that warrants you having to use this new costly treatment and I am sure that pharmacist will assist you in getting that medication. In my practice I have assisted patients in that manner because we have developed a relationship, not based only on dollars and cents. There are occasions when pharmacists, happening to be at a location, have had to intervene and correct errors made at the warehouse!
If your pharmacist is unwilling to assist, then develop a relationship with another. It is paramount that you get the best prescription advice at every level of your treatment. In other words refuse to go directly to the wholesaler, but insist on returning to the doctor or asking your pharmacist for assistance.
There is no cabal that controls the distribution of medicines; it is regulated in order to ensure safe administration at every point of distribution. The advice given previously is not to increase the sales of the pharmacist, but to protect public health.
When buying OTC’s make the pharmacy the choice location, when seeking intervention on a condition either seek medical advice or ask your pharmacist; The local pharmacist is trained to refer to the relevant physician, and may just be a data base or cell phone number away from your successful intervention.
Not to belabour the point, but many times I have sat at a football match, picnic, you name it, and people recognising what I do for a living , would say for example, “oh I taking St. Johns Wort with my anti-depressants…”. A deadly combination.
Your pharmacist is well trained and well placed to assist. There is an extensive network of pharmacies in Barbados, and studies have shown that persons are no more than 30 minutes away from pharmaceutical service.
Remember to develop that relationship with your pharmacy of choice, if possible purchase all of your prescriptions from the same pharmacy, so that a medicine record or history can be established. Most computer systems will retain records for up to six years. Always ask questions of your pharmacist if you are unsure. Never share your OTC medicines with someone unless you know of their medical history.
Always use the dose indicated on the box or container, never up doses, never chew or bite or even cut tablets unless you have been advised to do so. Always take your OTC medicines with water only. If you are unsure about a measurement, please ask your pharmacist, do not guess or average out a child’s dose.