Pharmacies tell patients they need a doctor’s prescription for common flu remedies

May 27, 2016 | 12 comments

Customers at Cuenca pharmacies are being told they cannot buy some standard cold and flu medications without a doctor’s prescription. The new rules were instituted by Ecuador’s Ministry of Public Health over concerns that medications that reduce such flu symptoms as fever and coughing, may mask the AH1N1 influenza virus.

More meds require a doctor's prescription.

More meds require a doctor’s prescription.

The health ministry says that 391 cases of AH1N1 have been reported, of which 39 patients have died. Most of the cases have been reported in the Guayaquil area, especially in Duran and Samborondón.

“Many antibiotics already require a formal doctor’s prescription,” said health ministry official Angelo Morán. “The problem was that overuse was affecting the effectiveness of the drugs,” he said. “Now, the concern is over pain medications and cough suppressants that can delay a diagnosis of the flu, especially AHINI.”

Morán said that people who self-medicate are the biggest danger for spreading the flu virus.

Alexa Roma, manager of a Cruz Azul pharmacy in Cuenca’s historic district, said that many customers do not realize that medications that could once be purchased over the counter now require a doctor’s prescription. “For some reason, people still think they can get any drug they want without seeing a doctor,” she says. “They need to understand that the rules are for protecting their health.”

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