Prescription or no prescription? – Nurse Tshepo

When going to the pharmacy, there are several different products that you will be able to find. Some require a prescription while others are available over the counter (OTC). Nurse Tshepo shares more,

Pharmacies can offer treatment and clinical advice about a range of common conditions.

They can give over-the-counter medication for a range of minor illnesses, such as: aches and pains; sore throat; cough; cold, flu; earache; skin rashes; teething; stomach aches; and red eye, to mention a few.

Even without a prescription, the pharmacy can help with services such as pregnancy screening and emergency contraception; the provision of asthma inhalers and health education on how to use them; the screening and treatment of sexually transmitted infections; blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar testing; HIV testing; flu vaccination and the provision of chronic medication. Pharmacists are qualified health practitioners and can help with minor health concerns. If the symptoms suggest something more serious, they have the right training to make sure that you get the help you need. For example, they will tell you if you need to see a doctor, nurse, or any other health professional. 

However, one might still need a prescription to get scheduled drugs from the pharmacy.

These are controlled drugs because their excessive use can lead to drug abuse or cause dependence and more serious side effects. Prescription drugs are potentially harmful if not used under the supervision of a licensed healthcare provider. Drugs such as antibiotics require a prescription before they can be dispensed because overuse of antibiotics can lead to drug resistance. Pharmacies will be able to provide you with prescription drugs and access to repeat prescriptions following a thorough drug dispensing regulation ensuring that the prescription order for a drug has proper selection, measuring, packaging, labelling, and issuance.

This is also due to the risks they may pose if taken by someone who is not supposed to be taking them. Taking drugs not prescribed for you is very dangerous, even lethal. If the drug isn’t prescribed for you, you don’t know what effects it may have. The side effects that come with these can put your health at risk. 

The great news is that for most of your chronic medications, your doctor can give you a prescription for 3-6 months. Prescriptions for the scheduled substances, which were previously valid only for three months, are now valid for six months.

Consequently, clients do not need to consult with a healthcare practitioner within the timeframes during which the prescriptions remain valid. This makes pharmacies more convenient and less of a hassle to access and get your medication from. Overall, pharmacists are experts in medicines and can help you with your health concerns, just make sure you get a script from a healthcare provider where necessary.

Tshepo Kabelo is a professional nurse, who holds a honours degree in Nursing ScienceAdvanced diploma in Nursing Management, and currently studying towards his Masters in Public Health. He currently works to promote health and well-being within all post graduate institutions in South Africa.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).