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Cayman Islands Government

Safe Medication

Never take any illicit or unfamiliar medication - prescription or otherwise -warns Health Services Authority (HSA) Medical Director, Dr. Greg Hoeksema.

This advice is prompted by several cases over time where patients have suffered life-threatening conditions resulting from drugs procured locally from unauthorized persons.

Dr. Hoeksema emphasises that registered healthcare professionals such as physicians, dentists, optometrists and podiatrists are the only persons who can prescribe medicine. "Unless designated to do so by the law, it is illegal to give out prescription medication to anyone.

"Moreover, many drugs, even over-the-counter, can produce adverse consequences, from side effects to allergic reactions and other potential risks, including death," he continues.

"Our recommendation therefore, is to always check with your doctor or pharmacist about how, when and where to take medications."

He cautions the public to check the labeling and to buy only from reputable sources such as registered pharmacies and healthcare facilities. "Take the necessary steps. If it is not labeled, do not take it; if it is labeled, but looks unfamiliar or comes from an unknown source, research the drug or ask your pharmacist before taking it," Dr. Hoeksema stated.

Chairman of the Pharmacy Council David Pellow reiterated this advice adding that patients should beware of counterfeit drugs.

"There are many unscrupulous manufactures, distributors and suppliers in the world today and the counterfeit drug business is threatening the chances of improved health for the public," Mr. Pellow said.

He added: "Many of these illegal pharmaceuticals do not contain any or the appropriate amount of active ingredients and may even contain harmful ingredients. So please make sure you know what you take."

Before taking medication ask these questions:

  • What is the name of the medication, and what is it supposed to do?

  • When and how do I take it?
  • Should I avoid alcohol, any other medications, foods, and/or activities?
  • What are the common side effects?
  • What are the dangerous side effects and what should I do if these happen?

Before taking medication, be sure to:

  • Know what your medication is supposed to do. Should it eliminate the illness or cope with the symptoms?
  • Read the label. Ask the pharmacist if you think what you've been given is not what the doctor prescribed, or is the incorrect amount or dosage.
  • Heed any label warnings, such as taking medications before or after eating, or vehicle driving/equipment operating safety.
  • Keep prescription and non-prescription medications out of children's reach.
  • Keep medications in their original childproof containers so you will have the label, instructions, expiration date and information for ordering a refill, as needed.

(GIS)

For further information contact: Cornelia Oliver