OTC addiction (guest post by @zams123)


Guest post by @zams123

I t’s worrying how the majority of people in some areas have a problem with drug abuse and addiction. This problem in community pharmacy however can be very annoying.

For example, how many community pharmacists today are faced with frequent over-the-counter requests for co-codamol products? The same people keep coming in to buy co-codamol, solpadeine plus etc feeding the staff and pharmacist with more or less the same story: ‘I’ve run out of my prescription co-codamol 30/500mg tablets’, ‘its for my back pain, nothing else agrees with me’ or even ‘my doctor recommended it’… It becomes conflicting when we are put in a position to refuse the sale; customers kick off and become rude, complaints arise and go to headoffice department, but the end result is that they are going to buy the co-codamol product from another pharmacy using the same story again.

It can also be annoying that GP’s might not realise what our OTC licensing issues are and recommend patients to buy over the counter as it’s probably cheaper than on prescription.

This problem does not just apply to co-codamol, it’s other products too such as codeine linctus and kaolin and morphine. The frequent requests I had in my pharmacy for kaolin and morphine mixture were atrocious that I had to remove it off the shelf.

In my pharmacy we are recording on paper when we sell these products to suspected drug abusers. Apart from this, how else can we resolve issues with codeine addiction and drug misuse?

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9 thoughts on “OTC addiction (guest post by @zams123)

  1. I had a pt in today who is a persistent culprit. Every time she has a new elaborate story. Today she had pulled her muscles cleaning her drain. She got some heat packs all the while eyeing up the nurofen plus. I knew it was coming. A few times I hv taken them aside and explained frankly that I won’t be selling anymore. Other times I just say no as I don’t see why I should waste my breath. They know what theyre doing is wrong. It is frustrating someone suggested and I agree that I can’t wait for it to become a pom. Let the doctors reign them in.

  2. im glad you did mention that Gps are unaware of the licensing and put pharmacists in an awkward position! It is very hard to make patients understand the whole situation.

    There was one woman who used to come and buy nurofen + every week!(the big pack!!!!!) Ive sold it a couple of times, then I refused. Oh my, she kicked up a fuss..wanting to speak to the manager..and complain about me!

    What a difficult patient she was!!!!Well, Us, pharmacists have no choice!!

  3. I think the problem is made worse because of 100 hour pharmacies, becasue they come in at different times on different days. You know they are regulars, but cant pin point when they last bought it.

  4. Remember a few years ago when someone was hurled in front of stat com because of selling senna 500s? Ive had the pleasure of being asked whether a person looked like an addict (after I had refused to sell them a box of ibuprofen & codeine because I remembered serving them in another location the day before!). Thing is with gps being threatened with prosecution over diazepam etc, we have to decide between getting abuse( well seeing as we get it when the gp misses something off an Rx anyway) or risking being accused of being an enabler.

  5. I have had many encounters with people asking to buy co codamol , sometimes they will ask for codeine and ibuprofen just to change it a little so we do not suspect anything. And yes I have heard all the above excuses for buying the codeine based tablets. I have even had there partners, (wives , Husbands) coming in to buy it for them . But where does the book fall, YES we have a duty of care but really is it worth it when a complaint is made against you ? We know who the persistent offenders are , we all have them ! But is it worth your job when you know they will just go to another pharmacy ?

  6. I just don’t know where to begin. Firstly you were correct. Pharmacists ARE intelligent people hence the university education and the certificate.
    Next the “little hitlers” as you so politically correctly and politely put it are there to do a job. Unfortunately sometimes there comes an area of the job where the customer is not going to leave a satisfied one. Obviously it is not ideal that should someone (through no fault of the pharmacy I assume) runs out of their medication. But excessive purchase of co-codamol is a problem for pharmacies as you have seen. The trouble is that we have laws and regulation regarding the supply of certain items which may leave genuine people like yourself disgruntled.

    Regarding the emergency prescription that the gp was forced to do, this is exactly what I would have recommended as to supply a prescription medication which someone has run out of. This is why we pay tax and ni for years.

    Pharmacy is damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Obviously you have not been happy with the service you received on that day. I am one of the philistine masses you talked about and I would not speak to anybody like that, not without a major provocation. I am paid to do my job and do it in a polite manner to customers however I don’t get paid enough to tolerate abuse and reward rudeness with being pleasant. I am human after all and being polite costs nothing. People on both sides of the pharmacy would do well to remember that.

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