Meds and you

23 July 2013

Take better care of yourself

With over 100, 000 non-prescription medicine products available in the South African market, annual International Self-Care Day highlights the importance for consumers to seek the advice and guidance of trained healthcare professionals when using any over-the-counter (OTC) medication.

The definition of self-care incorporates people using self-medication and treatments at home, which are based on their own knowledge of how to stay healthy. Self-care also helps to reduce the risk of acquiring chronic non-communicable diseases, such as type II diabetes, thus relieving pressure on the country’s healthcare system.

Waheed Abdurahman, pharmacist at Clicks, says that a crucial element of self-care is about knowing when to consult a professional. “When people have a question about a symptom or treatment, including self-care and self-medication, they should always remember that a pharmacist and a clinic sister can be their first port of call.”

Some of the most common over-the-counter medicines are remedies for coughs, cold or flu symptoms, indigestion or heartburn as well as allergy and sinus issues.

“Pharmacists are in the best position to counsel patients on their choice of OTC-related medication, provide instructions for taking medication and caution against adverse reactions, or advising on generic alternatives” points out Abdurahman. “The wrong choice or incorrect usage of OTC medication can lead to potentially harmful medicine interactions, side-effects, addictions or could potentially worsen a condition in the long run.”

Codeine, for example, is an effective painkiller and cough suppressant but  is potentially addictive if misused. To help curb the abuse of medication containing codeine, all major pharmacy retail chains in South Africa have put in place stricter controls on the sale of medication containing codeine, as of 1 June 2013. The stricter controls will now mean that consumers will soon have to provide their personal details whenever they purchase medicines containing the drug. This will assist in tracking their usage and preventing potential abuse. Since its first pharmacy opened nearly ten years ago, Clicks has been implementing the process of capturing customer details in order to adhere to government regulations for dispensation of all scheduled medication. Through their centralised database, Clicks is able to track customer’s medication purchases nationally.

It is also important to remember OTC medication often treats symptoms and does not necessarily address the underlying cause. Pharmacists and clinic sisters are particularly  helpful in advising customers with more serious conditions about when they need to consult a doctor.

“As part of International Self-Care Day, people should also talk to their pharmacist about what products they need to keep in their medicine cabinet,” adds Abdurahman. “Give your medicine cabinet a health check by making sure that products are relevant, haven’t expired, or whether you have the basic self-medication products needed to treat minor injuries and illnesses.”

For more information on responsible self-care visit
Press release, Clicks

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