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There are many professions where graduates can be easily lured towards the ‘dark side’ but pharmacy is generally not one of them, writes Fintan Moore

I recently had a conversation with a university student about the wide number of college courses that can lead into jobs which are morally questionable. The obvious example is a graduate with a law degree who can end up as a barrister and exploit failings in the justice system to keep violent offenders on the street instead of in prison. Even in the less-polluted end of the legal slime pool, solicitors can end up representing clients with dubious and exaggerated whiplash or slip-and-trip claims. Marketing graduates are more likely to end up promoting the consumption of soft drinks, donuts or pizzas than they are fruit and vegetables, given the massively disproportionate advertising spend by junk food companies versus health promotion agencies.

Similarly, business graduates might end up working in socially- conscious NGOs, but the big bucks are more likely to be earned in corporations with a less wholesome vibe who sell vapes to under-18s or clear forests for strip mining. The bright sparks with physics or maths degrees often get head-hunted to crunch the numbers for investment firms that move money around the place with no benefit to anybody else. The same skills are useful to gambling companies who keep telling us to ‘play responsibly’, but they bleed suckers dry and block the accounts of punters who are savvy enough to win consistently. Even some jobs that look ‘nice’ on the surface, such as Human Resources (or whatever they call it nowadays), are sometimes more focused on removing ‘problem’ employees in a legally-compliant way rather than helping them.

So at least in the day-to-day job of being a community pharmacist, we can earn a living without leaving a trail of victims floating in our wake. We get to spend our time sorting out problems for people, and it’s possible to go the extra mile to help somebody who needs it, even if that’s just by ignoring a small debt of somebody who’s genuinely struggling to make ends meet. We also, for the most part, work in co-operation with other pharmacists when it comes to borrowing stock or helping out in other ways. It’s possible to compete with other pharmacies without anyone playing dirty, and I enjoy the feeling of collegiality when helping or being helped by other pharmacists. The job can be challenging at times, and the level of pressure can be tough, but at least we get to look in the mirror and like what we see (apart from the grey hair and the wrinkles).


I’ve got a patchy and oddly selective memory. I’m pretty good on movie quotes but useless for matching names and faces, or even just recalling faces. This can be a drawback in the pharmacy — I can spend 10 minutes with a person deciding how best to treat a rash, but if they come back two days later, I might have zero recollection of having spoken to them until they fill in some blanks. However, over the years I’ve learned the idiosyncrasies of umpteen patients.

For example, Patient GK will only take brand name versions of all medication. GC will only take Teva Rosuvastatin. KG never pays for his rx — he leaves it to his wife. MM never pays for rx — she leaves it to her husband. CG will always say that she’ll pay ‘tomorrow’ and doesn’t. GT will only take Teva Amlodipine. MT pays her DPS at the end of the month. CK pays his DPS about two months ahead. AB pays her DPS in bits and pieces. The H family put stuff in ‘the book’ and forget about it until we remind them. BW, MP and others will only take Losec. NC and SE will only take Nexium. EOC needs Aspirin Dispersible. JB needs a receipt every time. PC needs her Phenergan tablets halved by us. AC must never be asked to renew rx because he gets confused — we ring his daughter.

And they’re just the ones that come to mind. Maybe my memory isn’t actually that bad, but has just run out of capacity for anything new.


There’s an understandable fear on the part of the HSE that an avalanche of people using Ozempic (or Wegovy if it gets licensed here) for weight loss could blow a sizeable hole in the country’s drugs budget if added to the State schemes. This is due in no small part to the patient experience in other countries indicating that people who lose weight by using Ozempic need to keep on taking it indefinitely or else they will regain the weight and eventually end up back where they started. So in theory, an Ozempic patient is for life, not just for Christmas, but the number of patients who actually stick with it long-term is considerably lower than might be expected. One of the reasons for that
is slightly unexpected — namely that Ozempic robs people of the joy of eating. The appetite suppression is in place before the first mouthful is even taken, so they end up pushing the food around the plate and eating small portions with no enthusiasm. This is a pretty miserable way to eat, and so much sociability for humans revolves around mealtimes that it must be difficult to stay on Ozempic, regardless of the weight-loss benefits.

It’s still a relatively recent drug, so more data will emerge over time to help predict patient outcomes.