I mean, I completely understand the need to take due care in handing over medication without a prescription. No one wants to go home with the wrong flavour cough medicine – a horrible tragedy just waiting to happen if it weren’t for the diligence of pharmacists.
That’s fine. But the behaviour of some pharmacists would make you think that society is barely holding back the tidal wave of a non-prescription drug addiction epidemic (“Police today warned teenagers against the terrifying side-effects of laxative abuse” etc, etc).
As an example, I’ve previously attempted to purchase some higher-end over the counter pain medication for ‘me gammy back’ (as recommended by my GP). I’m only exaggerating the teensiest bit when I tell you this resulted in a bright light in the face, a sly assessment of the redness of my eyes and an onslaught of wickedly ingenious questioning designed to trap unwary drug addicts disguised as middle-of-the-road public servants with lumbago.
The questions started off fairly innocuously, along the lines of “do you have any allergies?” and “are you on any other medication”, and were clearly designed to lull me into a false sense of security and then BANG! In with the trick question - “which is better, a metal or ceramic crack pipe?” obviously seeking to catch me off guard with an unintentionally honest answer of “Uh, ceramic – oh no! The charade is over! I am addicted to naprogesic and you have sprung me! Sob!”
Despite this history of Guantanamo Bay style interrogation, I honestly thought I’d be able to get some simple, run of the mill cold medication relatively easily. I mean, I’ve bought and used this stuff a zillion times before with no questions asked. Plus, I thought the dripping nose, red eyes and general foggy aura would lend an air of genuineness to my quest for paracetamol-based relief.
Me: “Hi, I’d like a 12-pack of codrals please”
ColumboPharmacist: “No. That is not allowed. The only ones that come in 12s are the prescription only super-strength ones and I can’t sell those to you as you don’t have a prescription and they are a restricted medicine.”
Me: “Uh. Ok. Then I’ll take the 24-pack of the medication I asked for.”
Pharmacist: “Ok, but you do realise that you are not allowed to buy the version that has pseudoephedrine in them?”
Me: “That’s fine. Can I buy these codrals?” *shaking the packet*
Pharmacist: “You can, but you can’t buy the ones with pseudoephedrine in them because you don’t have a prescription.”
Me: “I don’t want the ones with pseudoephedrine in them. I want these ones I’m holding.” *shaking the packet again*
Pharmacist: “That’s fine. But in future you’ll need a prescription for the pseudoephedrine ones.”
Me: “Can I buy these codrals now?”
Pharmacist: “Yes, you can. For now. Now, are these for you or someone else?”
Pharmacist: “Do you have any allergies, respiratory problems or heart complaints?”
Pharmacist: “Are you on anti-depressants?”
Me: “No.” But I might want some soon if this keeps up.
Pharmacist: “How is your thyroid?”
Me: “My what?”
Pharmacist: “How is your thyroid?”
Me: “Um. I don’t know. It seems fine to me but how could I know for sure?”
Pharmacist: “Well if you do have thyroid problems talk to your doctor because this medication can affect some kinds of older thyroid medication in a small number of cases when taken in high dosages.”
Me: “Can I have the codrals please?”
Pharmacist: “Ok. Now, do you want the day/night formula?”
Me: “No, just the regular ones please. These ones I am holding.”
Pharmacist: “Ooo. Hmmm. I guess. But you do know these can affect your sleep patterns which can affect your chances of a speedy recovery…”
Me: “Can I please just have this 24-pack of plain, regular codrals?”
Fools. I’m going to sell them on the street to kids. I'm going to make a fortune.