Anti-obesity pills should be sold by pharmacists
The anti-obesity pill, orlistat, which works by blocking the absorption of fat in the body, has recently been licensed to be sold in chemists within the EU. However, due to the effects and the consequences that the introduction of this pill could have on people both physically and psychologically, should these anti-obesity pills really be sold by pharmacists?
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Pharmacists are as competent to provide the pills as doctors.
Pharmacists do have medical knowledge as well as doctors after all. Besides, community pharmacist, Graham Phillips, who advises the National Obesity Forum, has said that there will be training for pharmacists in order to teach them how to measure the BMI (Body Mass Index) quickly and to improve their knowledge on the use of the anti-obesity pill. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7843061.stm)
The fact that pharmacists have also been dispensing emergency contraception over-the-counter for some time now ensures the competence of pharmacists to deal with some situations without having to consult a doctor.
Whilst it can be accepted that pharmacists have some knowledge in medicine, it is not to the same standard as a doctor's knowledge. Therefore this could cause problems. For example, a doctor may come across some risks for a certain person and hence, advise against the anti-obesity pill whereas in the same situation a pharmacist is likely to be ignorant of this risk and would sell the anti-obesity pill to such a person. This person may then suffer from the effects of the pill as a result of the incompetence of the pharmacist to diagnose the risks.
Increased accessibility will have more of an effect on obesity.
By pharmacists selling the anti-obesity pill, it significantly increases the accessibility to a cure for obesity. Therefore, a lot more people are likely to buy and use the pill since they don't have to go to the hassle of booking a doctors appointment or getting a prescription. If chemists sell the pills it is more convenient for people. As a consequence, through pharmacists selling the anti-obesity pill, it is likely that the rate of obesity within the European Union will drastically decline. This will have a good long-term effect on health in Europe, especially since it was previously estimated that by 2050 60% of men and 50% of women could be obese.
It is not possible that the pill in itself will have a positive long-term effect on obesity. In order to keep fit and keep losing weight people need to exercise and eat healthily too. In other words, the anti-obesity pill cannot be used alone to treat obesity and thus, the accessibility of the pill will only have a big impact on the rate of obesity if it is coincided with exercise and healthy eating.
It will increase public awareness to the problems of obesity.
Selling anti-obesity pills in chemists will emphasise to people how important it is to prevent obesity so as to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Chances are that a lot of people didn't realise how dangerous the health risks to obesity are and what these risks can lead to in the long run. Therefore, through publicity and advertisements in the chemists it will increase public awareness to the problems of obesity and thus, will encourage people to take action against the growing issue. Furthermore, a lot of people probably wouldn't have known that an anti-obesity pill existed until it was promoted in chemists.
There are various TV programmes, adverts, leaflets and information from doctors' surgeries aimed at increasing public awareness. Nevertheless, none of these seem to have a significant impact on preventing obesity so why should a promotion in chemists be any different?
It will ease the access to doctors' surgeries.
If people can buy anti-obesity pills over-the-counter in chemists, there will be no need for them to bother the doctors for a prescription. This means that it will decrease the demand for appointments at doctors' surgeries and consequently, this will make things easier and less stressful within the surgeries as well as making it easier for other people to book appointments with less delays and waiting times.
It is a rare occasion that a person goes to see a doctor for a prescription for anti-obesity pills so it is unlikely that by allowing pharmacists to sell the pills it will have a major impact on the demand for doctors' appointments.
The anti-obesity pill has many unpleasant side effects.
The fact that the anti-obesity pill, orlistat, can cause several unpleasant side effects such as diarrhoea and gas problems indicates that it should only be used with proper support and dietary advice. If people continue to eat fatty foods whilst taking the pill, the side effects are even more likely. People need proper and thorough advice before taking the pill due to the possible effects the pill can cause. Only doctors can give such advice.
The training that pharmacists will undergo will allow them to advise the patients themselves of these side effects. What is more, pharmacists have systems in place like consultation rooms to make sure that the pills can be dispensed safely to the correct people. Also, the pill that will be available in chemists will be a pill at a lower dose than doctors generally prescribe (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7843061.stm) meaning that it will not be as harmful as the pill prescribed by doctors. Pharmacists should therefore have no problems in ensuring that people experience minimal side effects.
It puts too much pressure on pharmacists.
Giving pharmacists this extra responsibility of making certain that the anti-obesity pill is only given to specific people who can benefit from it and will not be prone to the side effects of the pill, is not fair on the pharmacists. The support that people need in order to take the pill and the advice required is substantial and to expect pharmacists to be able to deliver this information, particularly in rush hour when they are extremely busy, puts too much pressure on pharmacists to do a job which is primarily that of a doctor.
pressure, what pressure, when did you ever go to a chemist or pharmacy and get your prescription immediately? or after a few minutes? the pharmacists in england cant be under pressure to prescribe obesity pills or any other medication as they only have to check prescriptions while their workforce makes them up. it would be nice if we could get our prescriptions on time, but then people who work in chemist shops wouldnt be able to sit talking all day instead of working properly, they should get their acts together and get on with the jobs they are paid for, the only people under pressure are our doctors especially in our hospitals. one pharmacist gave me the wrong tablets which could of killed me due to her talking.
It could lead to public exploitation.
It is probable that due to the easy access to anti-obesity pills in chemists, the public may become psychologically dependant on the pills believing that they will have a considerable impact on their weight. As a result, people may misuse the pills or overdose on them in an attempt to lose more weight. Public exploitation can have serious negative consequences and side effects and thus, anti-obesity pills should not be sold by pharmacists so as to avoid possible abuse of the drug.
Many things can be exploited by the public. There is no point trying to prevent public exploitation as it is the people's decision to make. We have to trust the public to "use the pill with knowledge." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7843061.stm)
It raises false expectations.
By allowing anti-obesity pills to be sold over-the-counter by pharmacists and by advertising the fact that these pills can help people lose 50% more weight than dieting alone, it raises false expectations. This allows people to believe that losing weight is as easy as popping a pill when in reality this is not the case.
In order to lose weight simply taking a pill is not sufficient. To have an effect, the pill needs to be combined with dieting, weight control, exercise and healthy eating.
It is too easy to think that taking a pill can have life-changing effects but for this to be real, the person needs to take action themselves to ensure a control over their weight and a constant, stable balance in their lifestyle.
It raises false expectations or it gives people hope, encouraging them to take action against obesity? It is possible that the increased accessibility to anti-obesity pills in chemists, making it more convenient for people, encourages the public to fight against obesity and to do something about their weight issues. Everyone needs hope and perhaps this is what the anti-obesity pills provide rather than false expectations.
What do you think?