Trust in medicines

May 1, 2006
Gurminder Marwaha

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe, Pharmaceutical Technology Europe-05-01-2006, Volume 18, Issue 5

How can we improve trust in medicines bought in foreign countries? After all, they will have been manufactured to the same standards and specifications as the medicines back home.

I consider myself to be a fit and healthy person. I go to the gym at least five nights a week and play football. I also (try to) eat healthily — though I usually cave in to the temptations of chocolate. So why is it that whenever I go abroad I always seem to catch a cold, bug or some other ailment? And why, instead of going to the nearest pharmacy, do I stay in my hotel room and feel sorry for myself?

Gurminder Marwaha

It's a matter of trust. I will only take medicines that I have purchased in the UK — which may sound utterly ridiculous, but having spoken to family, friends and colleagues it seems I am not the only one.

Take, for example, my trip to Interphex last month. While over in New York, I caught the flu. Not a cold or "man-flu", but proper flu — with the fever, chills, sweating, aches and pain. For the first time in my career, I missed an exhibition day as I ended up staying in bed. What's worse, is that it was the day I was flying back home and my flight wasn't until 7pm — I had a whole day of suffering ahead. I did go into a local pharmacy to purchase a flu remedy, but because I couldn't recognize any of the brands or names I simply didn't buy anything. Luckily, just before leaving the house, I'd packed a half-full box of generic painkillers, which did come in useful.

It seems that many people, when they go abroad, take their own medicines for most, if not all, eventualities. The reasons include that they are happy with a specific brand; they feel that medicines purchased from their own country are somehow safer than those bought abroad; and because people feel that language differences may cause problems if they are ill when away from home.

How can we improve trust in medicines bought in foreign countries? After all, they will have been manufactured to the same standards and specifications as the medicines back home. Should pharmaceutical manufacturers roll out the same branding for a particular medicine regardless of where it's being sold in the world? Then there wouldn't be any problems walking into any chemist and asking for a specific remedy.

Having said that, by the time you receive this magazine, I'll be well into my three week holiday in the Far East; and yes, I have packed enough medicines by brands that I recognize and trust.

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