Kottayam: The state directorate of health services has passed an order allowing pharmacists to dispense emergency medicines to patients 'over the counter' in the event of unavailability of doctors at government medical facilities including primary health centers.
The order specifies 22 over-the-counter (OTC) medicines including tablets, ointments and drops which needed a prescription up till now.
The action follows complaints from patients who were denied treatment when the only doctor on duty in government hospitals was unavailable for consultation due to absence or official engagements.
Oral rehydration solution (ORS), paracetamol tablets, saline nasal drops, liquid paraffin, calamine lotion and turpentine liniment are among medicines that registered pharmacists are now allowed to dispense.
At the same time, complaints have arisen that the list has been drawn up without a scientific basis. The list includes permethrin and mupirocin ointment which are to be prescribed after diagnosis by a doctor.
Also included is xylometazoline, which is known to have side effects.
At the same time, expectorant mixture commonly given for cough and Avil tablets routinely used for common cold and allergy, as well as pain killers are not in the list.