With the surge in COVID-19 infections fueled by the Omicron variant, the increased demand for paracetamol and other flu-symptom drugs seen in the country has been observed. The publications circulating online have prompted internet users to hoard, panic or make unnecessary purchases of such drugs, even if they are not sick or even have no symptoms.
As usual, pharmacies play a critical role in any local response to contain the COVID-19 surge. Community pharmacists don’t just serve as the first point of contact for people with health problems; they also play a major role in ensuring the availability of appropriate stocks in pharmacies and avoiding their excess price.
Recently, a local pharmaceutical giant published an advisory about the shortage of its drug brands. Other pharmacies have given their customers lists of “out of stock” drugs. At this point, it is essential that the general public be disciplined, resourceful and vigilant, as the country could potentially face a wave of infection twice as fast as that caused by the Delta variant last year. And who knows, we might also be dealing with “flurona”, a dual influenza-COVID infection recently reported by Israel.
Most of the drugs in short supply are brand name and over the counter drugs that are sold without a prescription. Topping the list is paracetamol, an antipyretic drug that can be used to deal with symptoms of COVID-19, or for pain or fever after vaccination. Also on the list are other supportive drugs that most likely contain paracetamol, such as Decolgen, Neozep, Bioflu and Alaxan. (Warning: A potential overdose can occur when a person takes various medicines that contain paracetamol.)
Using generic versions of paracetamol and flu medications can help us tackle the growing threat of shortages. Generic drugs work the same as their branded counterparts and provide the same benefits. While a brand name drug is named by the company that produces it, the generic drug is named after the active ingredient (s) it contains. Generic drugs can be marketed under different brand names but contain the same active ingredient (s) as brand name drugs. Moreover, generic drugs are much cheaper because they are devoid of massive advertisements and they have been subject to the same compliance with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The public is also advised not to purchase drugs online or from unauthorized establishments. Counterfeit or counterfeit medicines are deliberately and fraudulently produced and / or mislabelled with respect to identity and / or source to make them look like genuine products. They are not registered with the FDA and have not undergone various tests to confirm their quality, safety and effectiveness.
To identify fake drugs, the physical aspects serve as the quickest indicators of authenticity, such as color, size, weight, and design of both the drug and its packaging. Preferably, the drug in question should be compared to a genuine drug. It is also advisable to examine the film and other parts of the packaging such as the logo, lot / lot number, expiration date, and security features such as a hologram. Other red flags could be a misspelling or questionable instructions, and if the manufacturer’s address is traceable. In addition, fake medicines have a strange smell or taste, they break easily, and once taken, an unexpected reaction or sensation may occur.
The public should think twice if the price is lower than usual and report any suspicious product to the authorities.
TERESA MAY BANDIOLA
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