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My unofficial pharmacy advice

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My four year pharmacy degree is drawing to a close and I think that I have learnt most of what I can about pharmacy from university. I look forward to being able to apply this knowledge to real-life situations and actually help people understand and manage their medication. Because I am doing a pharmacy degree, often friends and family ask me questions about the medicines they are taking – and usually I don’t know the answer – but sometimes I give them some unofficial advice (unofficial because I haven’t qualified yet!). There are certain things I am able to help with based on what I have learnt so far.


Questions I am usually asked about are over-the-counter medicines when people are self-medicating. It is easy to take medicine when it is prescribed by a doctor because the indication and directions are clear. When people self-medicate for things like mild pain, colds and even weight loss, the right choice of medicine can become unclear. I think the biggest mistake people make is that because a drug is easy to obtain either by purchasing it in a supermarket or even online, is that it is safe or will even do what is promised on the packaging. I’m often asked about herbal remedies and asked do they work? Will it cure me?


Pharmacists are the most important people to ask for advice when people are self-medicating. I think we sometimes forget that medicines can be dangerous when used incorrectly especially since they are so readily available. There have been two articles in the Daily Mail recently, one of a girl who died from taking a weight-loss pill and another who was taking a banned tanning injection. Though the intention of taking the medicines was innocent, it had tragic consequences.  Medicines are chemicals and we shouldn't forget that they will have some sort of effect in the body. So my advice is, it is always better to ask if there is any uncertainty before self-medicating. 


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