Margaret Polaneczky, MD

Margaret Polaneczky, MD
New York City, New York, USA
December 17
I practice medicine, cook and wax prolific in NYC. You can also read me at, where I've been blogging since 2006.


Margaret Polaneczky, MD's Links
MAY 4, 2012 9:17AM

Behind the Counter in the UK

Rate: 2 Flag

While waiting at Heathrow for our flight home from London, my mother in law Irene, recalling the turbulence on our ride over, decided to get herself something for motion sickness. Off we headed to the airport pharmacy, where we discovered that motion sickness drugs are sold behind the counter in the UK, along with cough and cold syrup, paracematol (Tylenol) and many other drugs that we Yanks can scoop up freely from the pharmacy shelves here in the USA.

Upon questioning Irene about her health and other medications she was taking, the cheerful and helpful pharmacy tech called over the pharmacist, who firmly but politely refused to sell her the drug due to concerns about the potential to worsen her glaucoma. Irene was a bit taken aback, since her eye doctor had told her she could use the meds. But, having no local doc to override the pharmacist, we accepted the pharmacist’s verdict. Thankfully, our plane ride home was smooth sailing.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the caring attitude of the pharmacy tech and the pharmacist, as well as the seriousness with which they took their jobs. The risks of over the counter drugs may seem minimal, but not everyone takes the time (or has the corrected vision) to read the package labeling and warnings. Having someone vet your purchase for you could be potentially life saving.

I asked the pharmacist how the morning after pill is handled in the UK – turns out women requesting the med see him in his office for a private consultation prior to getting the drug, which has no age restriction. Not a bad idea, I think. Maybe we need to expand our behind the counter system in the US.

Then I think about the right to life pharmacists.

And change my mind.

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Wouldn't that be an excellent surprise, a pharmacist who cared about the products one chooses for medicine and whether it actually *is* a good idea....even with right-to-life pharmacists out there, I think it would be worth figuring out how to deal with them if there might be less overdoses in general, less horrible consequences for those mixing drugs, less worsening of symptoms because they're exacerbated by another medicine prescribed either unknowingly or otherwise...