The face of pharmacy tends to be pharmacists who work in the outpatient dispensaries in hospitals and polyclinics, and those who sell you cough and cold medication in chain pharmacies like Watsons, Guardian, and Unity.
However, there are many pharmacists “hidden” away from plain sight, but who still put in a shift ensuring the accuracy and safety of your medication!
- Pharmacists can also be found in academic institutions where they not only teach future generations of pharmacists, but undertake research as well. Who knows, they might only be this close to discovering the cure to cancer!
- The supply chain of medicines involves pharmacists too! Your medication passes through many “hands” before it lands in yours. Importing medication (otherwise known as poisons, if taken inappropriately) into Singapore requires a special poisons license which only pharmacists can apply for and hold.
- Pharmacists oversee operations that transport certain medications like vaccines and insulin. These need to be kept cold throughout transport and storage to ensure they arrive at your neighbourhood clinic in the best quality.
- Pharmacists also play active roles at regulatory agencies like HSA and MOH to enhance medication safety and your access to medication. Many of our fellow pharmacists are also involved within the manufacturing and marketing divisions of pharmaceutical companies.
The pharmacist at Watson’s/Guardian is there because my hand is too short to reach for the bottle in the glass cabinet behind the counter.
Medications in Singapore fall into three large categories –
- GSL -General Sales List, medication which you can purchase “off-the-shelf” (think paracetamol and antacids)
- POM – Prescription Only Medication, medication which requires a valid prescription from a registered medical practitioner to purchase (most antibiotics are in this category)
- P – Pharmacy, medication which can be bought under the advice of a pharmacist (some cough and flu medication, steroid creams and more).
Because of certain precautions and ingredients they contain, some medicinal preparations require the input of a pharmacist before purchase, and fall under category “P”. We typically keep these locked in the glass cabinet behind us so it’s see-no-touch! (I kid).
On a more serious note, in this case, children have smaller bodies than adults and usually require adjustment to the dose by their weight (don’t worry, the pharmacist can help you with calculating this!).
Sometimes, medication can interact with other medication you are on, trigger allergies related to another medicine, or cause your current health condition to worsen. Your pharmacist is an expert on drugs and is well-informed on these, so do tell her all the medications you are currently taking, along with any drug allergies and health conditions!