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A PUBLIC VIEWPOINT

Started about 1 month ago

Why would a pharmacist refuse to sell me, a pensioner, a common medical product I have used throughout my life to treat an occasional condition to good effect? I ask because that is what happened to me this week at my local chemists.

The condition was an eye infection - a stye - and the product I sought to buy was Gold Eye Ointment, which I have always found to be easily available. My experience began when, with red, inflamed eye, I was asked by the counter assistant why I wanted the product. I then stood there - feeling somewhat vilified - while the assistant held a lengthy discussion with the pharmacist, to be told he would hold a consultation with me. If I had wanted a consultation I would have seen a GP.

The pharmacist then became involved in a consultation with a mother and child, on the shop floor and I decided to leave. He spoke to me as I was leaving and I asked if he would allow me to buy the product - he said no. I purchased the product a short while later from a chemist in the same group a few miles away. The assistant merely asked two questions relating to contact lenses and diabetes.

Having read the many articles on this site and elsewhere relating to big developments with pharmacists regarding consultations and fast-track training to become GPs - and the great enthusiasm and, in some cases zeal, created - I understand the drive to offer a better public service. But where are the checks and balances?

In my case, and I suspect many others, I was denied the simple opportunity to treat a condition I knew with a product I've known and used since childhood without ill effect. How is this improving anything?

several things spring to mind, 

1 Gold(en) Eye ointment is no longer the same as the legacy product and now contains an antibiotic , and we are pressed to reduce unnneccesary use to prevent resistance. often sties will resolve with a little bathing. It was a Prescription only Medicine until; fairly recently, and typically this should involve  a Pharmacist before selling.

2 a sty can occasionally irritate/damage the surface of the eye, and its good practice to check, - you are on your last pair of eyes. i personally ask to see eye conditions in case they need referral.

3 ALL Pharmacy staff have a protocol to go through to ensure that they are selling a product whih is correct for the symptoms and person requiring it, these are NOT cosmetics or sweets, they CAN cause harm or exacerbate a condition.

4 This is done to try and ensure you get the correct treatment and dont waste money or time. It is a sign that the staff are caring and Professional, rather than after your money with no thought to your welfare. I would stick to the Pharmacy that cares, it may take you a few minutes longer but may well make a huge difference to your health one day.

It is called control... and you cannot have common sense any more...and anything that is, or was, easily accessible, actually worked, is relatively innocuous or, dare I say it, more natural, is being gradually either demonised (so people fear) or removed from circulation. 

Ian stated that he had always found this product easily available (not on prescription), and as styes do not occur that often I guess this was over many years, but the reply by Kevin states it was a prescription only medication until recently. Both cannot be true.

Oh and about "wasting time".... maybe a survey would help here.... to find out how much time customers/patients "waste" ringing/hanging on for doctors, at doctors waiting for their allotted slot only to be ushered out before they have an adequate solution, waiting for or having to discuss with pharmacy staff where prescription actually is in the systems, being told items are out of stock, having to have the missing item "released" so the prescription can be taken to other chemist, only to be told the former chemist hasn't "released" it properly, so yet another trip back to the former pharmacy..... yes experience it all from the other side as a "user of the system".  Eye opening !

Hello,

The following two, trustworthy, sources of information confirm that antibiotic treatment (chloramphenicol/Golden Eye) of a style is not necessary and therefore it would be inappropriate to supply you this treatment at this time.

Assuming we have the correct diagnosis, I would be concerned about the fact you have been supplied this in the past so easily - and as you can see from the articles, inappropriately.

https://www.moorfields.nhs.uk/condition/styes

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stye/

Further to the varied responses to my original post I would make the following points:
  1. Having continued to research this issue at some length, albeit as a layman member of the public, I can see there is a high level of contradiction and variable interpretations relating to the availability and use of Golden Eye Ointment. 
  2. In my lived experience - certainly up until the previous occasion I purchased the product in around 2010 - Golden Eye Ointment was available on chemists' shelves, even back in the day when it included a mercury-based element. I have never known it to be prescription-only - and my communication with the makers Cambridge Healthcare would seem to confirm that fact. Of course, until relatively recent times members of the public were afforded the respect of knowing how to read and follow guidance notes included with such products.
  3. My research of the past month or so has involved the direct purchase of Golden Eye Ointment at three pharmacists within a couple of miles of each other. They all sold the product with just a couple of questions - the fastest purchase being within 30 seconds at the pharmacy counter in a major supermarket. Presumably Kevin Western and Nicholas Baldwin would say these outlets are, at best, acting unprofessionally or, at worst, would seem to be guilty of malpractice?
  4. I accept there is an ongoing drive to limit the use of antibiotics, and pharmacists have been encouraged to play a greater role in dispensation of products and consultations, but in all the many words of self justification and selective interpretation of data presented there seems to be one vital element missing - any sign of empathy for older members of the public who are unaware of such changes. Again in my case, and I suspect many others, my simple visit to the chemists ended with a feeling I was being told to 'stand over there, wait in line, and do as you're told...' 
  5. Of course the biggest elephant in the room is revealed by a simple internet search for Golden Eye Ointment which presents the myriad ways this product, and scores of others, can be purchased with a couple of clicks - and online is where, I suspect, many will migrate if what seems to be the ongoing self-glorification of pharmacists continues unabated.