Sunday, 25 May 2014


Early one afternoon, a young, blonde woman approached the busy pharmacy counter and asked a female assistant if she could speak to the pharmacist about an issue her friend had. She mentioned that her friend had a rash and had sent a picture via sms to the young, blonde woman's iphone. My young assistant approached me at the dispensary counter to notify me that a lady was waiting, her friend had a rash and she had a picture of it on her phone.

It was quite a busy moment and I had to pass the message on that I would finish the prescriptions I was preparing. The blonde woman patiently waited five minutes for me to dispense and counsel my current client.

Upon finalising the sale, I approached the young, blonde woman and asked, "So, your friend has a rash?"

The blonde woman pulled out her iphone while explaining that her friend was too embarrassed to seek help herself, but obviously not so embarrassed that she could send a friend in to show me the photo. The picture, as it happens, was a lady's vagina, shaven, with a small tuft of blonde hair around the top of the labia and an indiscernible rash in-between her bottom 'lips' and the shadow of her right leg.'Oh... that's why it's embarrassing,' was my first thought.

You may be thinking that my second thought was, 'This lady is blonde. The (limited) hair I see in this photo is blonde. It's probably just her own pussy!'

Instead, being a guy, I was thinking, 'Don't smile. Don't laugh. Don't smile. Don't laugh. Don't smile. Don't laugh... ' And much of the reason I found this situation funny, aside from the unexpected private parts, and my gender, was remembering back a few months earlier. Another assistant at the same pharmacy had a similar situation where a woman showed a phone picture of her infected pussy, to which the assistant replied, "Umm... you should probably see a doctor..." Then complained in a hilarious manner, once all customers had left, that she doesn't work in a pharmacy to look at people's private parts. Go to the doctor when it's that bad! You really had to be there... it was quite a funny response...

During the current exchange, I managed, with great difficulty, to remain professional and indicated that the picture was of poor quality and I couldn't really diagnose the rash. The blonde woman's 'friend' should go to the doctor to have it properly examined.

While we were discussing this, the blonde woman's 'friend' sent another, clearer image, somewhat proving it wasn't the woman's genitals standing before me and most likely a real friend without the inverted commas. This new image showed some possible blisters, but it was still too difficult to tell. From the information gathered and the poor quality photos, I believed the most likely cause of the rash to be herpes. Again, I referred her to the doctor, denoting, as herpetic rashes are cause by a virus, that we had nothing over the counter to help treat it and that it is always best practice to have the doctor examine the rash to ensure an accurate diagnosis. I also mentioned that the doctor could write a prescription for antiviral therapy that could assist, another reason she should see the doctor.

The young, blonde woman finally left after I had handed her a list of doctors her friend could visit. Then I was able to let my facial muscles express what they had wanted to do the whole conversation, "Hahahahaha..." Such relief!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Phive is NOT Phour!

Early one script-filled afternoon doing a locum shift in a busy suburban pharmacy, a pharmacy assistant received a prescription from a dark African man with a deeply toned accent. He requested she first ask one of the pharmacists how much the brand name item would cost him as well as the price of the generic alternative. I responded to this request, discovering the original item to be Coversyl 5mg.

My research concluded that this particular supermarket pharmacy sold the Coversyl 5mg brand, at the time, for approximately $23 and the generic for around $16. I relayed this information to the assistant who explained to the African patient. He eagerly decided to take the cheaper option, saving money from the last time he purchased at another pharmacy.

Now, before I continue the story further, there's something I must explain to you about Coversyl 5mg and the generic versions. The active ingredient in Coversyl 5mg is perindopril attached to the molecule arginine as a salt. Before Coversyl came off patent in Australia (the patent expired sometime early 2007, from memory), the makers & sponsors of Coversyl in Australia, Servier, changed the salt from perindopril erbumine to its current from of perindopril arginine in August 2006. As I have already mentioned, Coversyl 5mg is perindopril arginine 5mg, but the old perindopril erbumine salt was 4mg!

At the time of the change, Servier explained that the strengths were bioequivalent. See this NPS article for proof: Click this boring article.

The purpose of this change, while generic companies were in the middle of creating their own generic perindopril erbumine, was to prevent those same generic companies from coming onto the market and also prevent patients from switching to cheaper alternatives. Therefore, Servier would see less of their profits go to generic companies. Patients would now see them as different strengths, and initially, this system worked. This process is called ever-greening and is just another common form of corporate greed in the pharmaceutical industry.

The main reason this sneaky change worked was because it took nearly 6 months for Australian authorities to officially list the generic perindopril erbumine 4mg as an equivalent product to the Coveryl, perindopril arginine 5mg. This was so stupid and I will explain using the following formula:

Servier told us: perindopril erbumine 4mg = perindopril arginine 5mg

Which is: Coversyl 4mg = Coversyl 5mg

Generic companies produced their products to be exactly equivalent to Coversyl's perindopril 4mg.

Therefore: Coversyl 4mg = Generic 4mg

Finally, this should mean: Generic 4mg = Coversyl 5mg

Not hard maths, is it?

This was possibly one of the most boring explanations I ever wrote... Let's continue.

Now, after I dispensed the prescription, the assistant took the medication to the patient. Immediately, he questioned why it was now 4mg instead of 5mg and asked to speak to me. I stepped down from the dispensary and began my above (boring) explanation. As I barely finished my first sentence, he looked at me with anger in his eyes and said, "I've done chemisty, and I know that 5mg is not 4mg!"

"I know," empathising with him, "but please let me explain."

"No!" He replied, boiling. "5mg is not 4mg! I know chemistry!"

"OKAY, OKAY," I responded with calm. "I'll change it to the 5mg version." I adjusted the prescription back to the $23 Coversyl 5mg brand and handed it to the assistant to put through the payment at the till.

I continued with other prescriptions when suddenly, the same assistant was standing next to me and said, "The African gentleman changed his mind and wants the $16 version."

"OKAY..." I uttered with slight frustration, and changed the prescription back to the 4mg Generic worth $16.

About 20 seconds later, I clearly heard the yelling coming from the counter area, "5MG IS NOT 4MG!!!"

I went down to the cash register, armed with a stapler, where the African gentleman was standing. I calmly took back the medication, removed the dispensing stickers from the prescription, stapled it back the way it was before he entered the pharmacy, and as I handed the prescription back to him, said, "I'm sorry, we can't help you." I then turned around and headed back to the dispensary.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Phretphul Phuss

One evening, in a busy late night pharmacy, I was handed a prescription from my pre-registrant pharmacist. He said to me, “This lady would like you to hand out this script to her. You’ll like her,” with a cheeky grin on his face.

“Ok…” I replied cautiously as I continued dispensing.

When I completed the prescription order handed to me by my pre-registrant pharmacist, I called out the name on the prescription and was greeted by a short stumpy woman, likely to be mid 50’s, with short brown hair and glasses. I explained what I needed to about her prescription, and then placed her script paper on the counter for her to sign the bottom. At the time, I could not find a pen for her to use. I apologised and headed back to the dispensary to pick up one of my reliable pens then went back to the counter where she was waiting rather impatiently.

“Here’s a pen,” I said handing it over to her.

Immediately she responded by saying, “No!” I was a little shocked to hear that kind of response and didn’t understand what she meant by it. I was just handing her a pen to use.

“Not like that,” she continued. “Put it down!”

“Excuse me?” I replied confused. “Put what down?”

“The pen!” She said. “Put it on the table.”

“You can just take the pen from me. Here,” As I held out the pen to her.

“No! You’re not listening. Put it on the table.”

“Would you like another pen?” I went to grab another pen from the dispensary, but before I could walk more than 2 steps, she said, “No!” again with a frustrated sigh.

“Put the pen on the table so I can pick it up. I can’t touch it from you directly.”

At that point I felt a little dirty. Did she think I had some sort of disease? Cooties? And she couldn’t touch the pen while I had hold of it?

I put the pen on the table with hesitation and a puzzled look on my face. “See. Now I can pick it up,” she exclaimed as she signed her prescription.

I collected the signed script and the pen from the counter and put them out of the way then asked how she wanted to pay for it.

“Credit,” she replied as she threw her card on the table so that I wasn’t touching the card while she was holding it.

“You’ll need to sign the bottom of the receipt for the credit card purchase,” I explained as I put the receipt down on the table and handed her the pen again. She took the pen directly from my hand.

“Nooooo….” She sighed, closed her eyes and threw her head back as she realised she had taken the pen directly from my hands. “Now I’m infected,” she complained with a solemn dismay. “You need to put the pen on the counter first before I can touch it.” She placed the pen on the counter then picked it up again as if that would reverse the ‘infection.’

“Oh…” I said as I realised she had some form of anxiety, most likely about personal contact or hygiene.

She signed the credit card slip, finished the transaction and left the pharmacy in a sombre mood about what had just transpired.

Meanwhile, my pre-registrant pharmacist remained in the dispensary with a grin from ear to ear.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Grandphather Pharmacist

One morning on opening of the pharmacy with a female assistant, a note was left from the pharmacist from the previous night regarding the return of an item. The item was a badly dented 900g tin of S26 Gold Comfort baby formula.

The note indicated that the woman who returned the can of formula claimed to have purchased it from our pharmacy. The pharmacist, who was known for not being the sharpest tool in the shed and on the wrong side of 60 (imagine Mr Magoo), wrote in the note that he couldn’t find the product on the pharmacy’s computer system so refunded it at the price the woman said she paid for it without a receipt! That was around $24!

The assistant and I examined the can more closely and I said, “Do we even sell S26 Gold Comfort?”

My assistant checked the back office system and replied, “No. We’ve never even purchased it for the shelves!”

Reading the note further, the pharmacist explained in his writings that he felt pressured into doing the refund and that the lady has ‘probably’ conned us!

I looked at my assistant and stated, “That last sentence should read something more like, ‘I’m too old to be a pharmacist and should retire because this lady ‘canned’ me.’”

We shared a laugh.

But seriously, to all the old(er) pharmacists, please be more methodical when you’re in charge of someone else’s business. I actually do like working with you because, as you can see, I enjoy listening to your interesting experiences.

And to all pharmacists, learn your boundaries and be confident in your decisions. If you think it’s wrong, it probably is and just because ‘everyone else does it,’ doesn’t make it correct!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Phunky Phagina

One quiet afternoon, working in a cosy shopping centre pharmacy, a woman and her toddler son came in to fetch some fairly unremarkable items - the first being just some regular Band-aids. At the time, there were probably another two to three customers being served by other pharmacists or assistants closer to the service counter.

I escorted her to the Band-aids as she requested, then I asked her what the other item was she was looking for.

She replied with, “I’m just after some Gamophen soap.”

Before I could utter a word, her son chimed in loudly, “To wash your vagina!”

I paused for a moment, bathing myself in the awkwardness of the situation and said something I somewhat regret, directed back at the young toddler, “Um… probably a bit more information than I needed, but here is the Gamophen,” as I pointed out its location to the mother.

Gamophen Soap is a medicated soap containing Triclosan that acts as an antibacterial and can help to reduce body odour.


I believe she felt lucky that no one but myself seemed to hear her son's exclamation.

After this uncomfortable incident, I could only wonder at how amazing it is that kids can struggle to comprehend lessons at school, but pay enough attention at places like the General Practitioner's office to repeat the most embarrassing of conversations. Children are full of comedy gold!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Phorthwith Phanny

One quiet afternoon, while working with only one other assistant, a really tall lady with massive breasts, wearing a tight red dress entered the pharmacy with a prescription. I pleasantly served her while looking up into her eyes, rather than her shapely mammaries located at my eye level. I told her the prescription wouldn't take long as she was the only customer in the store and invited her to look around the shop while she waited.

I proceeded to dispense her prescription in the dispensary, at which time, my assistant casually approached me from her other duties of organising the recently delivered order and whispered, "Aren't you glad I left that customer for you?"

"You were busy doing the order," I replied, "So it's no problem."

"I thought you'd like a good look at her boobs," My assistant stated with a smirk.

At that very moment, the tall lady in the red dress with the big melons dropped some of her shopping in front of the service counter. She bent down to pick it up while facing away from us and both the assistant and I had a full moon view of her refined posterior.

The timing of the assistant's comment and our unexpected 'cheeky' observation forced us both into sudden, quieted laughter and an immediate crouch behind the dispensary counter to hide our amusement from the only customer in our shop.

My assistant regained her composure first, and before she left, declared, "Sometimes, you just have a good day..." Which kept me crouched in hushed laughter.

Eventually, I was able to complete the lady in red's prescription and serve her without so much as a smile, although it was a struggle. Once she had left, I was able to reveal to my assistant, "Yes. She had a nice figure, but... she was too tall..."

That put a smile on both our faces and had us reminiscing over the perfect timing of this most recent memorable event.