Saturday, 30 July 2011

Generic prescribing

I spent the vast part of my life knowing nothing at all about - prescription - drugs.

The nearest I got to anything remotely druggy was when I had appendicitis, or maybe it was when I had yet another fractured ankle. But I got this wonderful painkiller when I was lying post-operatively in my hospital bed. it was an injection and it transported me heavenwards. Seriously.

I floated above the boring old hospital bed and felt as though I was in another world. It was so good I asked for another painkilling shot. Sadly the staff must have wised up to teenage druggies. I got a painful shot in the arse and no ethereal levitation. That was my only brief dalliance with the wonderful world of opiates - or whatever it was.

Period pains, headaches, anything else - I never bothered with painkillers. Figured they would all eventually go off anyway. And they did. So when I started working in the health service and drugs became part of my job, it was a whole new world. I learned about generic prescribing.

This is an easy one. For anyone who doesn't know - as I didn't before I joined the NHS - generic drugs are just drugs without a brand name. So to give an example: Zovirax is a brand name cream for cold sores made by GlaxoSmithKline UK. The active ingredient in this is aciclovir. Aciclovir is what makes the difference. It doesn't matter what the drug is called or who makes it - the active ingredient is what counts.

A few months ago I skipped off to Morrisons and, as I was stressed out of my head for no reason in particular, I had a cold sore looming. I asked at the pharmacy counter how much the Zovirax was. Seven pounds something for a tiny tube. Er, I don't think so.

Facebook pals will know that I invariably recommend Smirnoff Blue Vodka for all oral problems - and at around eight pounds something it is far better vfm. I don't recommend drinking the vodka though, however nice it may taste. Far too strong. Best to use as an antiseptic or mouth wash or whatever.

But back to the pharmacy counter. I pulled a face, wrung my hands, and said how expensive that was. The pharmacist said, 'We have our own brand' and gave me the box to look at. I compared it with the Zovirax. Exactly the same. The pharmacist watched me and helpfully told me they were the same. I parted with three quid for Morrisons' own brand aciclovir. Not sure if it is any more effective than Smirnoff but that's another matter.

This post is about generic prescribing and how you need to check out active ingredients. Incidentally, I have noticed that my American friends are far more clued up on generic names - whether for dog drugs or people drugs - and I wonder if that is for health insurance issues?

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Spoilt brats

I don't like or dislike children. I just have no particular interest in them.

The concept of having my own never occurred to me. It always strikes me as bizarre when people call adults selfish because they have chosen not to have family. I am not aware that I have a duty to reproduce.

Anyway, what I do not like are spoilt brats. And selfish mothers. Getting on the bus yesterday with three bags of shopping in the heat of the day - who occupied the first four seats on the bus? Yes, three children and their mother, who, was approximately half my age. Did any of said three children get up and offer a 52-year-old woman their seat? Of course not. I wasn't the only middle-aged or older person standing either. They weren't toddlers. They were children of say, junior school age. They didn't have any bags or baggage. They could quite easily have taken seats at the back of the bus, which is what a woman with her two children did yesterday. Another seven-year-old boy (I know how old he was because he started chatting to the others) also sat next to them - he was travelling on his own.

So I could see no reason for these three and their mother to take up the first seats on the bus. They were looking sulky and bored. One of them stared at me. I glared back at it. The middle one stared too. I glared again. I suppose it could have been worse. They could have been screaming. Grumpy old people like me grew up in the days when we stood up on the bus to let older people have our seats.

What is so special about today's children that they NEED to sit? Why do they lack basic manners and courtesy? The only people I ever seem to see giving up their seats for older people (and I mean older than me here) are adults of varying ages, as I would still do too. But children? They never give up their seats. Precious little gits, presumably with rude and badly educated parents.

If you are a parent and your children are ever unprivileged enough to get the bus on the rare occasion you are not ferrying them around in your SUV, perhaps you could suggest they may wish to offer their seat to an older person. And not take up all the front seats when there are plenty at the back. Thank you.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Trial by jury? or by media?

Please people, don't indulge in convicting someone through trial by media.

A few points about trials. If someone pleads not guilty, then to all intents and purposes they are not guilty until proved otherwise, ie beyond all reasonable doubt and all that.

It is difficult for most people to avoid seeing or reading media reports on deaths, and suspected murders. (Not so much for me as I don't have a television). But because there has been a death, and there are suspects, does not automatically make someone a murderer. Emotive reports and hard facts are not the same.

Jurors concentrate on what they are told in court not the crap that has been churned out on television or in newpapers. Being a jury member is an incredible responsibility - especially when you could be condemning someone to death. You aren't there to say - I read about it/saw it on television so therefore this person is guilty. You are there to listen to two sides of an argument and objectively decide which one is stronger, based on the evidence presented.

Casting aspersions on someone's character, ie proclaiming that a woman is a slut/whore/lives a promiscuous lifestyle however you wish to call it, is not evidence of anything. Unless a woman is being prosecuted for having lots of sex of course.

I wasn't a juror in the Casey Anthony trial so quite frankly it is not up to me to say whether she was guilty or not. She was found not guilty of murder (and two other charges, although guilty of misleading police) so that should be an end to speculation. Don't jump in and condemn the people who were chosen to do the job, and came to a unanimous not guilty verdict.

What I will do though, is criticise our society that even makes it acceptable to portray a woman as a pleasure-seeking slut who is therefore, a bad mother. This isn't to advocate the idea of bad parenting. I am not doing that for a minute.

But I am criticising the stereotypical view that a woman needs to be a chaste - almost virginal - stay-at-home mum. I mean, she has to be bad right, because she is a single mum in the first place? Unpackage the imagery of what women 'ought' to be according to society.

Don't judge women because of their sexual mores and perceived bad parenting. It certainly isn't relevant in a murder trial based on circumstantial evidence. As others have said, she wasn't on trial for being a slut and a bad mother. But that was what she was judged for in the media. And when someone has been proved innocent stop saying they are guilty and that you know better.

I remember a discussion about the Guildford Four once in a newspaper office. Or maybe it was the Birmingham Six. Either way, I rashly pointed out that we all knew they were guilty. I got a blasting from a colleague and rightly so. They had been proved innocent in a court of law and that's what matters.

I wouldn't want to take my chances of trial by media. For all the flaws in our legal system, a jury trial strives for impartiality and objectivity and we should all be grateful for that. Two interesting links: The first one says what I was trying to say except better. The second is written by a psychiatrist and considers the issue of bi-polarity. One Two