Monday, October 13, 2008

Common sense - not in the nanny state

Just weeks after a whopper of a cold, I've managed to pick up another one - not surprising with three kids at different schools all bringing their own germs home and having spent six hours in the company of my cold-ridden Brunel tutor in an airless, overheated lecture room last week.

Anyway, this cold's not so bad, just your average head cold. So this morning I headed down to Lloyds Pharmacy as I normally do when the lurgy strikes to stock up on Day Nurse and Night Nurse. As a freelancer, only five minutes of man flu wallowing is allowed, and then it's on with the job.

So, I trotted into Lloyds and the lady behind the counter duly got the two bottles of syrupy liquid for me - as pharmacy staff have done for as long as I can remember. But this time as she checked them with the pharmacist he said: "No - we can't sell both, it has to be one or the other."

I asked why, since they'd been selling them to me perfectly happily once or twice a year for about the last 25 years. He replied: "It's a head office directive. The amount of ephedrine in the day and night versions exceeds the prescribed limits, so we can't sell them together. People have been abusing them."

Now, unless they've increased the amounts involved, which I don't think they have, I struggle to see why the pharmacist has to nanny the average cold victim by not selling the products together. Surely it would make sense just to give an advisory and perhaps say don't take so many does of the Day Nurse if you're going to take Night Nurse as well?

Now from what I can tell, the pseudoephedrene in this cold remedy is a decongestant, but ephedrine is an anabolic steroid, and is taken in large doses by bodybuilders and can indeed be abused. However, this is where common sense is called for from the pharmacist - not nannying. Today I've got a red nose and red eyes from copious nose blowing and a poor night's sleep - but I look about as far from a body builder as it's possible to be, and at 44, fairly clean and reasonably dressed, hardly look like the average druggie.

Surely the pharmacist should have the discretion to sell me the products but with a verbal advisory on their use? That would be fulfilling his obligation as a health carer and also treating me as an adult. Instead, I left the store with my Day Nurse but also feeling slightly insulted. There are two other pharmacies on the High Street - I suspect I'll be popping into one later to get some Night Nurse - which I'll use with the same care that I've taken for the past couple of decades.

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