Fri, Jul 03, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Pharmacists dodge calls for easier access to drugs

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hospital pharmacists yesterday responded to calls for easier access to drugs by suggesting that a detailed categorization of certain drugs be carried out before decisions are made about which to make available without a prescription.

“Vitamins, for example, are something that appear to be safe to take. But most people are unaware that poisoning can occur if one takes too many vitamins,” Shen Li-chuan (沈麗娟), deputy director of National Taiwan University Hospital’s Pharmacy, said during a public hearing organized by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Huang Chih-hsiung (黃志雄).

BETTER ACCESS

Huang organized the hearing in response to calls for prescription-free access to medicines for minor problems.

“Everybody wants to get things done easily and quickly. Those who have a cold hope that they can buy cold remedies at a convenience store instead of going to see a doctor,” Huang said.

QUESTIONABLE

The public’s call for easier access to drugs, however, was questioned by hospital pharmacists and Department of Health officials.

They said that Taiwanese already enjoy much easier access to drugs than in the US or Japan.

Easy access to drugs is not always a good thing, the experts said, as uncontrolled pill-popping can harm a patient’s health.

CATEGORIZATION

“Instead of lifting regulations on medicines, I think we should work out a detailed categorization for all kinds of drugs,” Shen said, mentioning a recent case at her hospital where a patient ended up with kidney failure after taking too many vitamin C pills.

“I think we do a poor job categorizing drugs so many people get confused. This should be the priority,” she said.

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