Medical & Health, Pharmacies
Your local chemist or pharmacist doesn't just supply prescription medication; they also offer a whole range of other products and services.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme - or PBS - is an Australian Government program that provides Australian citizens and eligible overseas visitors with subsidised prescription drugs where necessary. The scheme ensures that all Australians have access to affordable and ethical medical treatment. The scheme began in 1948 to provide free medicines to pensioners and comprised a list of 139 'life saving and disease preventing' medicines for others in the community.
When getting a prescription filled at the chemist the pharmacist may ask you if you want to purchase a cheaper generic brand. Many people are confused by this question and want to know “what is the difference”? Is the cheaper brand inferior to the more expensive brand? Generic brands of medication contain the same active ingredients in the same dosage; they are just produced by a different pharmaceutical company at a lower price. Unless your doctor specifies otherwise on a prescription, buying the generic brand will be just as effective as the branded product.
There are different types of medication, some that your GP needs to prescribe, and medication that pharmacists can dispense over the counter without a prescription.
A pharmacist has extensive knowledge of medicines and is an important source of information and advice on how to treat common ailments and the various treatments available.
Over a hundred years ago pharmacists were known as apothecaries. A large part of their job was to extract the active ingredients from raw material to make up medicine. Medicines were not yet available in a pure form but were derived from natural sources such as roots and leaves. Pharmacists had to extract the active ingredients with water or alcohol to form extracts and concoctions using a mortar and pestle. The pestle pounds away at the raw materials inside the mortar, thus releasing the active ingredient. This was a routine activity, hence the symbol of the mortar and pestle seen in many pharmacies today.
Pharmacies stock a wide variety of healthcare items from medications and remedies to walking sticks and shower chairs. Pharmacies tend to cater for the needs of those in their local community, so the medications, treatments and services available will vary depending on location and size. Some pharmacies offer compounding, where medicines and treatments are measured and prepared onsite, and others may provide a wide range of natural therapies and even offer onsite naturopathic consultations.
After a visit to a doctor you may be prescribed medication as a treatment for an illness or condition. It is important to learn as much as you can about the prescribed medication, such as the dose and conditions in which it must be taken. It is also important to know if there any potential side-affects or adverse reactions to watch out for.
Medications for colds are flus are designed to relieve and alleviate symptoms such as fever, sneezing, sinus conditions and coughing. Most of these medications can be found in your local pharmacy and can be purchased without prescription. Medicines of any type, prescribed or over the counter, can cause adverse reactions or side-affects in some people. The reactions will vary greatly depending on the individual and it is important to be informed and understand potential side-affects.