By JENI FAULKNER
WHEN it comes to looking after your health, which would you consider first ? the service you receive or the cost of the product?
This month supermarket giant Woolworths Limited has been pressuring the Federal Government to allow it to trial in-house chemists and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia argues this could be detrimental to consumers.
Woolworths already offers Nurofen and Panadol with no health advice and pharmacists in Coffs Harbour warn these 'unsafe' selling practices are dangerous.
Pharmacist Liz Innes from the Bailey Centre Pharmacy believes a chemist within a supermarket is not ideal, but she said it was something she felt would eventually happen.
"A pharmacy is a service-orientated industry," Ms Innes said.
"People can buy Nurofen and also be prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs by the doctor which could conflict things and cause stomach ulcers."
Ms Innes said although she wasn't aware of the restrictions big supermarkets could have with in-house chemists she said she would be concerned about staffing issues.
"I can't understand how they would provide a service that is
open all hours because, even here in Coffs Harbour there are limited pharmacists available," she said.
Ms Innes warned that Paracetamol could cause liver problems in certain cases, and it should only be restricted in large quantities to a pharmacy because there were people out there who live on it.
"Those who have osteoarthritis can go through about eight tablets a day, and the safety guard here is that you can monitor and advise people on how many to take and then tell them to talk to their doctor about adjusting their medication," she said.
"People go to a supermarket for convenience and we need to work on providing the general public with advice so they want to go to their local pharmacy."
Also arguing the case, pharmacist Alison Aylott said that a community pharmacy had an advantage over a supermarket because there was always a pharmacist on hand to assist in health matters.
"At a pharmacy there is more service and a great service at that," Ms Aylott said.
Currently there are restrictions in packet quantity at the supermarket for products like Nurofen and Panadol and Ms Aylott said that once you are able to buy large quantities of Panadol it could be a problem.
"I would hate to think there are any pharmacies out there that could give out large quantities of Panadol and not offer health advice, these can be dangerous and I would refuse to supply a huge quantity to someone," she said.
"Generally it is not inappropriate to buy a couple of packets of Nurofen at a chemist but in a a supermarket you just need to walk up an aisle and grab it without realising the dangers.
"Not every pharmacy is excellent but you try to provide what is appropriate, and for someone in small business it is really sad that the big retailers are causing the decimation of small retailers," Ms Aylott said.
"I'm not just talking about the chemist. I am also talking about the bakers and butchers, ultimately we will end up with less choice.
"The small retailers will be gone and people will be left with less competition."