Medical media recently has highlighted the bad news for back pain sufferers – analgesic don’t work! As reported in 6minutes newsletter to GPs, “NSAIDs such as ibuprofen are no better than placebo. And perhaps do more harm than good.”
The news release goes on to say that “previous research has already demonstrated that paracetamol is ineffective and opioids are not much better”.
My comments on coincidence stem from other articles I’ve read recently, one in the AJP Jan/Feb edition, and another in the AJP Daily, wherein two experts express their surprise at how seriously ill patients turn to complementary medicines to help give some quality of life.

The point that each expert misses is that, behind the scenes and in the feelings of the particular patients involved, the prescribed medications aren’t helping.

Those medications might be supporting the disease treatment (mesothelioma in one, labyrinthitis in the other) but accompanying issues like quality of life, pain management and dry sockets after dental surgery, seem to be left to the patient to try and cope with.

If this was a member of your family, would you not really endeavor to get involved? Is it any wonder that these folk buy nutrients on the Internet, or seek complementary medicine solutions?

Let’s look at some realities here please!

The articles don’t specify what advice sources these people have consulted, other that the “girl in the vitamin section at the pharmacy” or a party plan nutritional night.

So where is the “clinical personality” of the local pharmacist? Might it be hidden in the dispensary, doing it and doing it, as quickly and efficiently as the factory floor expects, while sick people humbly look for answers to really, really important questions.

So, what’s the solution?

In spite of the NPS and others warning pharmacists about the “dangers of interactions, adverse effects, variable product quality”, the consumer/patient will continue to ignore those “warnings” and seek solutions.

We as pharmacists have two options available.

Option one: Develop a clinical personality involving the expectations of the patient who copes with serious disease states, multiple medications and ongoing frustration with the system and lack of willingness from associated practitioners. Understand “how that patient feels” when confronted with no answer, an unexpected answer or a confusing answer.

Option two: If the heat in the kitchen is too much, walk away from this complementary aspect of healthcare. Leave it to the degree-qualified and patient-passionate natural healthcare providers who are now being equipped with the skills that pharmacists refuse to use. Those skills involve integrative pharmacology and communication techniques with medical doctors.

But don’t, as I ask this on behalf of the two patients to whom I referred earlier, “dabble” – this is a serious part of health, so get over your hesitation, your cynicism and your medical bias – the patient isn’t interested in those views.

They want a good outcome.

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