POM to P reclassifications are exiting times for pharmacists – we get to play with the big boy toys. It is like I can pencil in behind my name ‘MD’ – albeit very faintly and I always have to have an eraser at hand for incase someone notices. Much fan fare is usually made, training modules distributed, TV advertisements aired and even the odd bill board notice can be seen in London.
Many a rationale is put forward as to why a product suddenly is deemed safe for sale over the counter rather than on prescription. Usually there are the two camps – greatly divided. One shouting at the top of their voices that we are being irresponsible in putting SO much responsiblity in the mere hands of a pharmacist, and then there is the group that sullenly proclaim that with the right training vast improvements can be made by helping our hapless patients. But you know what? It matters little. Because there is always the factor of ‘money’ involved! Bucket loads of it, and it is he who waves the £50 notes around that has the final say, not the BMA, the GP at the local surgery, the RPS or any other group/individual you may wish to mention.
And yes, both the abovementioned camps have got hold of the truth to some degree. St DrugMagister personally believes that the jury is still out deliberating the value and benefits of the reclassification of chloramphenicol drops and ointment for the treatment of conjunctivitis and the possible contribution that has had to the increase in drug resistance against antibiotics. Then there is the hapless case of simvastatin – what an utter abortion that was! On the other hand, St DrugMagister do believe that the reclassification of the morning after pill has been a phenomenal success and has greatly improved the public’s access to this specific medication. And enter the ultra right-wing politicians and shoot St DrugMagister! Bring them on, I say!
Now I read in the C&D that Eisai has lodged an application for the reclassification of rabeprazole. Guys really? What are you on about? We already have the H2 antagonists to play with, as well as the proton pump inhibitor, omeprazole. Pantoprazole has also been reclassified, but have not yet hit our shelves. Now you want to smother us with yet another? Most customers just are not interested. They can either get it for free as an exempt NHS customer, or in the case of having to pay a levy, get a larger quantity for less sterling – do your maths, it just does not add up!
But guys, there has been a silent group of professionals that have been caught up in the debate raging around their heads, and that is the pharmacist. The very men and women at the coal face! Seldom are we objectively consulted. We are just not interested, nor have the time to indulge in your antics. Rabeprazole is just going to take another place on our already full shelves and gather dust, two years down the line having to be thrown away because it had expired – Zoton deja vu!
I beg of you, big pharma and MHRA, listen to our silent cry – give us something to work with. Something we can sink our teeth in. Something that will not only help our customers, but will make our Saturday afternoon ’emergency supply’ moments soooo much easier, something that will even save the NHS some money! SALBUTAMOL inhaler, I beg of you! PLEASE!
Dedicated to all my colleagues at the coal face, silently screaming for sanity