Editor's Comment

Respect medical doctors’ advice

THE easy access to prescription drugs, without medical advice, is worrisome and there is need for immediate action to stem this.
There are many pharmacies in Zambia, some of them illegal, which sell prescription drugs without due regard for the absolute need for such medicines to be dispensed only if an authorised medical expert so states in writing.
It has become common practice to find that when people are unwell, they opt to make their way to a pharmacy instead of a hospital where they can see a qualified medical officer to prescribe the right medication for their ailment.
The increase in the number of pharmacies in townships, a sign that there is a growing demand for drugs by residents, in line with the growing population, can be another driver for taking drugs without expert advice.
With such an increase in demand also comes the abuse of drugs, which some unscrupulous pharmacy owners may not care much about against the potential profits which lie in selling their merchandise.
All too often, people choose to ignore the consequences of making their own decisions on what drugs to take for whatever ailments they or their family members could have.
They have become self-determined medical experts and this is largely because the medicines are readily available across the counter.
Notably, there is also evidence of increased use of sex boosters like sildenafil, which is better known and sold as Viagra, which is for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
The abuse of drugs such as sex boosters or benylin, whether by the younger generation or the older people in our nation, is a worrying trend.
The fact that a sex booster like sildenafil is easily available off the counter in pharmacies should be a concern to all.
Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia president Jerome Kanyika said last Friday that anything said to boost sexual performance sells.
He further said the biggest challenge for the society is that even young people who are not expected to ask for sildenafil are the ones flocking to pharmacies to buy the drug.
People should be wary of the effects of taking drugs without a prescription from a recognised doctor or other medical experts.
Some drugs like antibiotics lose their efficacy because of abuse or incorrect intake.
This is what happened with chloroquine, a drug used for the treatment of malaria. Because of abuse, its efficacy was eroded and many could no longer be treated using the drug.
All this was because whenever one had a fever or presented with malaria symptoms, they would rush to a pharmacy and buy some chloroquine. Often, because there were so many tablets in a course, many did not complete the course.
The same way chloroquine became ineffective, sex boosters could become useless. Worse still, the users could lose their prowess.
Not too long ago, there was an uproar over Natural Power High Energy drink after it was found to contain sildenafil. The Ndola City Council has since ordered its removal from the shelves.
One wonders why other towns are not taking similar immediate action.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia should not tire in sensitising citizens on the dangers of self-prescription while urging them to abide by doctors’ orders over medication.
It is also better to spend a little more money to see a doctor than to go for self-prescription and risk being a nation of unhealthy citizens.
Each one of us is responsible over our health but this responsibility goes with the right information.

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