So this debate has been going on for a long time and the street drug sellers keep increasing in Africa especially my motherland Cameroon. Despite the many campaigns going on about the dangers of such people still go ahead. Well today, I am going to be giving you some reasons why you should buy from street vendors
They have the lowest rates for selling death sentences. I mean if you have a death or sick wish, that is the cheapest place you can get those from. Oh I can also borrow and pay back when I am too sick and rushed to the hospital or dead.
Ah is it not the same drugs sold in pharmacy? am sure the pharmacy only increases prices because they pay taxes. I take it and I get well. I do not need to bother about the sun, the dust or places where they sell those medicines…it has nothing on the quality of the drugs ‘abeg’
3: Ease of access
There are so many around, I do not need to walk far to get them. I mean, it is only about my health, why should I make an extra effort to get something good?
4: 'doctas' (self-proclaimed physicians)
My docta hein…hmmm he knows his stuff. One does not need to go to med or pharmacy school to know how to diagnose and handle drugs. Plus I do not have to pay consultation fee.
While street vendors are cheap, have you ever bothered to find out why they are so cheap? Yes the most obvious is they do not pay taxes. But then, most of them are fake drugs from the black market (meaning high chances they have not been controlled). Some are expired drugs that have just been repackaged. So you have limited money yet want to buy your medication?
Here is a tip: go to government hospitals or non-profit clinics, the drugs there are very very affordable and most retail as well or you can go to a community pharmacy and ask for generic versions of your drugs. For more tips on how to save money on your drugs click here and if you have a good relationship with your community pharmacies, you might be able to buy on credit. That is why it is important to stick to one pharmacy as much as you can.
Oufff hmm do not get me started on all the shadiness of the quality of such drugs. Countless times studies have shown how many of these drugs are either placebos (empty…no active ingredients), contain different substances (potentially very dangerous)…you want proof?
Check this out, a drug sold as hydrochlorothiazide 50mg (an anti-hypertensive) after causing a lot of damages on patients (some died) was later found to contain another drug instead…glibenclamide (an anti-diabetic drug). When patients were asked where they got their medications from, most answered…’docta’.
I won’t pretend or ignore the fact that a few (yes a few) pharmacies buy from black market…that is why they have regular controls and are reprimanded if such found in their pharmacies. But your docta, who checks the sources of his drugs…worse, who is he accountable to when something is not ok??? Some may even be selling the right drugs but their storage conditions just mess everything up and then the drugs degrade to toxic compounds. You may not notice the effect immediately in some cases but in the long run, you start having liver or kidney problems. Protect yourself from fake drugs, buy from accredited pharmacies.
Ease of access
Really? If you are really been honest with yourself, you will notice health centers and pharmacies are not that far. Most of these street vendors are even strategically located beside such yet you go to the street vendors. If you are afraid to waste time on long lines at a pharmacy, here are some tips.
I agree most are not very welcoming (blame the government lol…kidding!). Tip: look for one you flow with. I mean, these guys went to school for that long for a reason. The body is complicated. Drugs are beneficial but in the wrong hands can become a poison. If you do not have money to pay hospital consultation fee, at least go to the pharmacy, they are free of charge and you will have sound advice. For more on how to make the most of your community pharmacist, click here
Take home: the choice is yours, and the consequences are also yours. Choose wisely.
I however, strongly recommend you buy your medications from a pharmacy. This, not because I am a trained pharmacist but because I care about your health and I am sure you care about it.
About the Author
Dr. Ekwoge Hilda is a trained pharmacist from Cameroon and Co-founder of HILPharma. When she is not busy creating content, she slings pills to pay the bills at the Buea Regional Hospital and also serves the Buea District as its focal point for supply chain management of drugs.