Is Your Doctor Giving You a Prescription or a Sales Pitch?

It’s funny how words change in usage or meaning over time. For instance how has the idea of a chemist changed from “a scientist who is trained in the study of chemistry” to “a place where you can get cheap condoms.”

It’s true that we barely think about the art and science that goes into the production of all the tablets and treatments that are sold at what are now warehouse size stores that stock every number of colourfully packaged products that the modern citizen needs and desires.

I suppose we presume that they are all put together in the bowels of some factory, by a corporation that is hell-bent on maximizing profits and whose only duty of care to the customers consuming this stuff is that they want them alive enough to come back for more and not dead enough to be sued for negligence.

Doctors and pharmaceutical companies

The evil of pharmaceutical companies bribing doctors to prescribe their products to patients are well documented and unfortunately inevitable. Thus, it makes it difficult for us as consumers to establish any form of trust with our doctors or chemists.

It is to our benefit that healthcare products are considerably cheaper and therefore affordable for those who need them the most, but what are the consequences of this system? Is it possible that people are becoming reliant on treatments that they don’t really need or continue to use them long after their treatment plan has ended? Are there any procedures in place to inform and protect the hapless citizen from being exploited by a large faceless company that is so much more powerful and informed than they are?

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Image source: chemistaustralia.com.au

I’m just trying to think back to how I remember the friendly chemist in my hometown who would take the script from my mother’s hand, the script my doctor had written for me when I’d got the chickenpox as a little boy. The chemist would go behind the counter and start mixing a concoction that would ease my symptoms, something he had probably done thousands of times before, employing a skill that had taken many years of intense study to master.

He would then emerge from behind the counter with that little paper bag containing my medication, expertly prepared and probably life-saving. Think about that, two hundred years ago I would’ve just died unceremoniously and now it’s just another day for the modern world, dishing out life saving medicine like it was a piece of fruit.

Today, that specially prepared medicine often sits on a shelf where you can simply go in and pick it up and some bored teenager will sell it to you for fifteen bucks and off you go. I mean, the contrast that a few years generates is simply astonishing. Buying medication seems a lot less interesting or amazing. Now, it’s just bright coloured advertising leaflets stuffed into your mailbox and sale banners to entice consumers.

Price has become such a powerful influence and is what appears to drive many of our purchase decisions. While we have an overwhelming tendency to search for the cheapest price, our primary goal should be to purchase quality products, particularly when it relates to medication.

Lucky for us, there are still chemists out there that not only position themselves as ‘Australia’s cheapest chemist’, but also prides themselves on delivering quality products. Our unlimited access to the Internet enables us to conduct research on the side effects of various medications, prior to consumption. This is a wise move, particularly if you have an inkling that your doctor may be giving you a sales pitch, rather than straightforward medical advice. A second opinion can never hurt.

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