Ever wondered why all medicines aren’t available in supermarkets for easy public access? Why they are usually kept under such strict conditions? It would cut down on medical bills, and would make life a lot easier if we could simply grab a box of antibiotics off the shelf if we got an infection, right?
Well for one, many of them are so strong that they would pose a threat if incorrectly taken or over taken, leading to overdose, serious illness or dangerous interaction with other medications.
Many people believe they require a certain product advertised on TV or radio to improve their health or help their sickness, however may not be aware of the risks associated with them, or equipped with enough knowledge about these products to ensure they are safe to use.
This is why many medicines are held in an environment surrounded by knowledgeable and helpful pharmacy assistants with experience and training, along with pharmacists- medical professionals that have had years of experience along with at least six years of education and training. These people are there to ensure the correct selection is made for the individual’s situation and needs, with a recommended dose and time frame of use.
There are a number of questions a pharmacist or pharmacy assistant is required to ask to deem each product suitable and safe in each individual case. Designed to be weaved into simple conversation with the customer, these questions have been set up in an ‘Ask, Assess, Advise’ protocol- a technique used in pharmacies around Australia.
Answers to each of the six questions give an insight into the customer’s situation, and if any raise concern, then they should be referred to the pharmacist for assessment, and may be referred further to see a doctor.
Examples of concerning situations include if the customer has explained that their symptoms have lasted for a particularly long time (more than just a few days) and nothing has helped so far, or if they are using a range of other medications that may interact with a product they are requesting. (Pharmacy Guild of Australia, 2010).
The average person mightn’t realise their method of drug use, or combinations of them may be unhealthy- they may have thought it was completely healthy and helping them.
Just one example of a bad drug combination is antidepressants with cold & flu tablets: these are never recommended together, as can make the person disorientated- something that we wouldn’t know unless we were told! Anyone who happens to be on antidepressants who get a cold, are of course going to want and grab some cold and flu tablets. They’d never know without the experts explaining this!
In fact, these interactions can be so complicated that even the experts have limited knowledge, however Russ Altman: What really happens when you mix medications? provides an extremely informative explanation on how any new drug information can be accessed by anyone.
What a wonderful world we live in, where pharmacies and medical companies exist to ensure our health always comes first. After all, if the experts didn’t help us when we are sick, who would?
Pharmacy Guild of Australia (2010) Ask, Assess, Advise (online). Available from: http://www.rbhealthhub.com.au/programs/pp/pa/pa4/p06-overview-of-ask%2C-assess%2C-advise.html. [Accessed 7/5/16]
Ted Conferences (2015) Russ Altman: What really happens when you mix medications? (online). Available from: https://www.ted.com/talks/russ_altman_what_really_happens_when_you_mix_medications?language=en. [Accessed 7/5/16]