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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : June 2005
Winter med_V2.qxd 18/05/2005 10:30 AM Page 441 sirable side effects to most people,’ he said. However, Mr Basger’s advice hasn’t always achieved the outcome he thought it would—which is one of the reasons why he says it is difficult for him to get away from the coalface and into a research facility. ‘I had a young lady who came in, I explained the problems with oral decongestants and she listened very carefully and then said: “Yes, yes, yes, I have heard what you have said ... but does it give you a buzz?” ‘And she said this after all my warnings. So I said “Yes it probably does, if you take enough of it”, and she said, “Well, I’ll have it then,” and she was thrilled.’ He said another patient was in his pharmacy recently, having trouble deciding which complementary product was the better preparation. ‘A lot of people get very busy with complementary medicines around this time of year, unfortunately however, there is even less proof for complementary medicines than there is for normal medicines,’ he said. ‘The fact is the immune system can get along quite nicely by itself if given the chance,’ he said. ‘I don’t mean to rubbish complementary medicines, it’s a giant market. ‘A lot of people like to self-medicate. It gives them power. It puts them in control and that makes them feel better immediately. And if it makes them feel better, then that is fine,’ he said. ‘But once again, if somebody asks me a direct question, then I must give them a direct answer,’ he said. The patient, a man in his 20s, wanted to know which preparation—Echinacea Forte, Echinacea plus garlic, or Echinacea plus zinc—was the best. ‘Now the company doesn’t know, so they make three of them. But they have kind of done themselves in because when it comes from the prospective of explaining it to someone, I say the company doesn’t know, so they make each one of them and they put you in the driver’s seat—you decide,’ Mr Basger said. ‘But inevitably they ask our opinion and it is difficult,’ he added. ‘This man was interested in some quality advice and I told him what I just said. He listened, decided to buy the Echinacea Forte and then asked if there was anything else I could recommend,’ he said. Common sense for common cold ‘I get lots and lots of precontemplators— they see products for coughs and colds or colds and flu, they see the description on the box and they see that, that is all they need, it’s clear that I am not going to persuade them and out it goes,’ Mr Basger said. ‘Lots and lots of these products go out and I can only assume that there is a high placebo effect going on, and I can only assume that pharmacists give people lots of other advice, and the other advice that they give them is the advice that helps,’ he said. ‘And that other advice is not new, not high tech, not sexy ... and it goes like this: expect a little bit less of yourself over the next few days with respect to stress and anxiety and tension and pressure. Have some good food, drink lots of water, get a little bit of fresh air, take a little bit of time out and give your immune system a chance.’ s THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.86 JUNE 2005 441