Pharmacists dispense prescription drugs to patients on recommendation by their doctors. In addition to that, they also offer advice and provide information to patients about the medication, their use and side effects. They work closely with healthcare professionals in the management of prescription drugs in the market.

Dispensing controlled medication

Although a pharmacist can only dispense prescription drugs, the practice of dispensing controlled medication to the public is prevalent and is increasingly on the rise. It is a practice that endangers lives as the pharmacist has no knowledge of the patients’ medical history and more importantly, a pharmacist is not a substitute for a doctor. The public knowingly or unknowingly might also be part of the problem. There may be many reasons for people to approach a pharmacist to obtain prescription drugs. It could be them thinking that it is more convenient, easier and cheaper to approach a pharmacist instead of paying much more to consult a doctor.

Potentially fatal effects

Not only is this practice illegal, a pharmacist caught doing this can have his/her license suspended and it can be extremely dangerous to one’s health and can even endanger their life. Some pain killers, for example steroids, morphine and codeine, induces drowsiness, nausea and slow breathing. When combined with alcohol, it can be extremely dangerous or fatal. Antibiotics that doctors only prescribe in extreme situations, is a controlled medicine that can only be purchased with a prescription. Frequent taking of antibiotics weakens antibodies making one susceptible to falling ill easily. Another example of a prescription drug is Valium. It is a form of tranquilizer and sedative used to treat anxiety, panic attacks and sleep disorder. Prolonged usage of this drug can lead to withdrawal symptoms and seizures. Stimulants on the other hand such as Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine, can become addictive, increase blood pressure and cause irregular heartbeat, if taken without proper guidance from a doctor.

Unfortunately, the demand for seeing a pharmacist directly and obtaining medication that is not prescribed by a doctor appears to be on the rise. A few years ago, it was reported that a pharmacist had his license suspended for exporting psychotropic pills (a prescription drug) disguised as Vitamin B complex supplements. This particular drug can be processed into Methamphetamine (syabu) and amphetamine, a drug where long term use causes delusions, paranoia and hallucinations.

Society plays a major role in perpetuating the trend of obtaining prescription drugs without a prescription. Where there is demand, there will be supply. The public need to take responsibility for their own actions and stop the practice of obtaining these drugs without a prescription from a doctor. For the pharmacist, the first and foremost, it is their duty and responsibility to look after the well- being of their patients. It is not only illegal to dispense controlled drugs without prescription but it is also ethically wrong. Public naivety or lack of education must not in any way impede the duties and responsibilities undertaken as a pharmacist. MIMS

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