Monday, June 11, 2007

OTC drugs at Medical retail outlets

Last weekend was my annual bout of cold and viral infection. It was time for me to 'update my anti-virus' with new dosage of antibiotics prescribed by my physician. Whenever I fall sick, I prefer to call the medical shop for home delivery of medicines. This time when I called up, the shop, the counter guy promptly told me that there was nobody available for home delivery and it may take hours since it was a Sunday. Nevertheless, I reeled out my list of medication on phone and told him that I’d come and collect it personally. Well, it was not all that comfortable when I had to gear up for that quick drive with my running nose, sneezes and feverish feeling, coupled with the general irritation that there was nobody around to help me avoid going out in that muggy weather.

Of late I started visiting new MedPlus retail chain, because that’s the closest to where I live. In fact, you can find at least four such shops in about 2 kilometers radius. (I'm not sure if such a mushrooming of medical outlets is a good sign keeping in view the general tendency of people to pop in a pill at their own risk)

In the shop, there were already five customers waiting for the medicines out of which only one had a valid prescription. Others were all OTC customers with 'self-prescribed' drugs. One of them was reeling out names of several tablets and capsules (most of them seemed to be vitamins and dietary supplements) and when the guy at the counter was unable to match his speed, he even helped him with the numbers/codes with which they classify the medicines. I was simply amazed at the ease with which he recollected the numbers and location of those rows of identical boxes. Perhaps, he was a regular customer and he could point out where which medicine was stored. Of course, his unusual memory helped the shop guy to speed up his search but it suggested a quite a dangerous trend - how easily people can buy various types of drugs without any formal presription from the physician! To top it, 'customer-friendly' retailing such as home-delivery and 24X7 availability also encourages people to pick any pill that they feel is right for that moment - right from vitamins to antibiotics.

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