Between condoms and sleeping pills

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NAFDAC Nigeria: Between condoms and sleeping pills

NAFDAC Nigeria: Between condoms and sleeping pills

I WALKED into a pharmacy, in Lekki Phase I, in search of a prescribed medicine. This well stocked drug store was very enticing to visit, beckoning from afar. The attendants were self confident and elegant looking young people and fresh from school.

I made for the counter, and ordered a sleeping pill. The lady attendant stared at me cautiously, demanding I present a written prescription from the doctor. Demanding an explanation, I tried to describe to her, chronologically delivering my two weeks medical history to her.

She reeled out a treatise on medical ethics and prescriptions. Teaching me why medicines must be administered with prescriptions. Having cross examined me for over a dozen minutes, she was quite convinced I was genuine. During this conversation, I spotted finely stacked packs of condoms on the edge of the counter. These packs had offensive, erotic images to lure customers to buying them.

If I had requested a condom, rather than this sleeping pill would I have had to go through all that cross examination? The irony is that condoms are available over the counters, meaning they do not require a prescription by law, and there are no age restrictions on purchasing it.

While I waited on the attendant, these thoughts kept running through my head: Will this ethicist attendant approve of selling condoms to her five year old niece or nephew, if they demand it; after all, it’s an over-the-counter medication? Will she approve of condoms being sold to her 80 year old grand parents? Should a prescription be demanded before minors and aged are administered condoms or contraceptive pills? When does someone’s moral code take precedence over existing law? What should we consider a human right?

These are really tricky questions because their answers have changed over the years, depending on the prevailing powers that be.

While cigarette packs carry life threatening caveats, for example Marlboro cigarettes wear the label: “smoking can cause a slow and painful death” or “Smoking kills”. The legal drinking age is 18+ in many countries, beers wear the tag ‘18+’. The minimum age for the purchase of alcohol is 18. In the UK, many supermarkets and off-licence chains display “Challenge 21” notices stating that they will not serve persons who look under 21 without ID. Condoms carry nothing of any sort. They say condoms are non- prescription drugs.

I agree the sleeping pills I requested should not be sold to me without genuine prescription because of the effects it can have on my health in the long term.

However, aren’t pharmacists required to dispense all legal drugs when the purchasers have prescriptions? To sell any drugs at the presentation of a prescription is akin to selling a gun to a known assassin; after all he has a prescription. Aren’t pharmacists who refuse to sell these medications denying them their privileges and breaking the law?

Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man’s reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest. Isn’t it ironic that “politics, expediency and self interest” are the driving forces of the pro-choice proponents and “religious, moral and ethical beliefs” are the driving forces of the pro-life proponents?

Though condoms and other contraceptives may have no apparent damage on the body like these sleeping pills, it wrecks us as persons, destroying marital values, faithfulness to spouse, genuine conjugal love, fostering promiscuity, co-habitation, encouraging premarital sex, teenage pregnancy and a whole band of rotten practices.

Once again, I will like to ask NAFDAC this question; When does one’s moral code take precedence over existing law? NAFDAC should review their policies regarding prescribed and over-the-counter medications.

Chuka Uzo, is an architect in Lagos.

Author of this article: Chuka
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