Feb 9, 2007

[Health] A Difference in Opinion

If you pass by the Health section of Google News, you'll notice that one of the top headlines is about the FDA approval of an over-the-counter diet drug. Pray tell, what is this new miracle drug?

It's nothing new - it's just Xenical at half the usual dosage, which means it'll just be 60mg per capsule. As always, the announcement has everyone disagreeing as to if this is really the right thing to do and other implications of such a drug becoming readily available.

Of course when I first read the articles related to the news, I rememebered that Xenical here in the Phillpines is already an over-the-counter drug. Heck, visit the website and it immediately provides pricing information for the leading drug store chain in the country. This isn't for some weak 60mg version - this is for the standard 120mg version which is under such close scrutiny in the US.

What gives? Why the change in handling? You'd think that given how US-centric this country can get at times, one of the most glaring differences between us and them is how we approach health care and drug controls.

Here most antibiotics are practically over-the-counter. I say practically since even if they weren't, many smaller drug stores will be willing to provide you with the stuff anyway. I'm not just talking about the weak stuff like amoxicillin, I'm talking about the really strong drugs like erythromycin and azithromycin.

Our perscriptions are not for closed-loop series of drugs - we get to re-use perscriptions even when they've already been filled. We don't measure out the entire series in individual bottles labelled with the correct dosage and the name of the patient - we give them in little plastic baggies or we cut them out individually.

The Philippine drug industry is able to get away with murder, quite seriously. Household abortionists know exactly what drugs to get, all OTC here in the Philippines, in order to relieve young women of their burden, to speak in blatant euphemisms. I know all this since I used to work in a smaller drug store and was appalled to learn that people actually tried to get those drugs. What was even more shocking still was that they'd eventually get it somewhere.

Does Xenical really help you lose weight? It appears so, if you believe all the testimonials. That's well and good if you can deal with the loose stool, increased risk of cancer and other adverse reactions. Let's not even to the part where we discuss the negative interactions with any blood thinning, diabetes or post-operation drugs being taken in conjunction and how people getting it OTC around here may not know about the side-effects.

I'm happy for you guys in the US - good job, you know have more access to a pretty powerful drug. What's going to be keeping up a bit more these days is the sad reminder of the state of affairs here and how dangerous our drug industry really is.

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