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Buying Viagra, Xanax as easy as buying candy

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KUALA LUMPUR — For the past 20 years, 62-year-old Leela has been buying prescribed medication such as painkillers, antibiotics and flu pills, from various pharmacies in the Klang Valley without a doctor’s prescription.

Leela said her children have dubbed her their “family doctor” because she can tell them which medicine is needed for “almost any kind of symptom”.

“When my children were much younger, I would visit a doctor or a general practitioner but after some time, I learnt about the different types of medicine and realised that it was much cheaper and more convenient to get them at a pharmacy,” she said.

These medicines include those that come under the Group B Poison category and the Poisons Act 1952, which can only be prescribed by a registered medical practitioner or registered dentist. Pharmacists do not fall under this category.

They are only limited to prescribing and dispensing Group B medicines which are used specifically to treat minor ailments such as skin allergies, colds and body aches.

A pharmacist can only dispense Group B pills with a prescription from a doctor. And in these cases, the pharmacist must write down the amount, brand and dosage of drugs sold to a person in the prescription book.

The prescription book is generally to safeguard the interests of the pharmacist and for record purposes should there be any untoward incidents resulting from the consumer’s consumption of the medicine.

In reality, most people can walk into a pharmacy to buy Group B medicines without a prescription. At most, they may be required to jot down their particulars in the prescription book.

“I would just walk in and ask for the medicines I want, and they would just sell them to me without asking questions,” said Leela, whose purchases include Celebrex.

In a straw poll, about 10 respondents confessed that they too have purchased potent Group B medicines without a prescription. These include Viagra and Xanax.

Gary, 24, said he bought Viagra to help him perform better when lifting weights in the gym. “I just walk into a pharmacy and buy it,” he said.

He said he knew it was wrong to do so, but still did it because it was difficult to get such “performance enhancing drugs” without a prescription.

Malay Mail also visited several pharmacies in Bangsar, Petaling Jaya and Klang seeking Group B medicines such as Xanax, Arcoxia and Covapril. A few pharmacists did not bother asking for a prescription chit.

Some just took the tablets from the locked shelves and sold them without recording our details.

Asked if the consumer would be in trouble for buying these medicines without a prescription, one pharmacist said: “Everyone is doing this, it’s okay as long as you consume these medicines as we have prescribed.”