Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I HAVE to admit that it infuriates me when legislation impinges on the simplest of things, such as buying eye drops or even headache tablets.

I suffer form an eye condition which requires a specific type of eye drops. I don’t want to know what is in the stuff or how it does its job – all I really want is for it to fix the problem.

The item in question retails at almost €9 for a bottle, about double the cost of ‘normal’ eye drops. Recently, I was in need of a good shot of the stuff but, unfortunately, I was away from home so off I go to the nearest pharmacy and hand in the empty bottle and ask for a refill.

“Sorry, that’s on prescription only and you would need to go to see a doctor,” said the shop assistant. The pharmacist on duty looks to the girl, then to me and tells her to tell me to go to a doctor. I explain I won’t be back in Carlow in time to buy the drops from my own pharmacist, but all I get is a blank stare, a weak smile and “sorry”.

I don’t know what they thought I was going to do with the eye drops, all 5mls of the stuff, but I was left in no doubt that I wasn’t getting it. That, along with legislation requiring a pharmacist to give you a lecture if you want to purchase a headache tablet, is legislation gone mad.

However, the recent government proposal to ban below-cost selling of alcohol is something I will be in favour of. As I have said before, I am not anti-drink. In fact, even though I don’t touch the stuff, I think it is great where people can socialise and have a few drinks among friends.

But unfortunately, what has happened over the last 20 years is the total abuse of alcohol and its use as an enticement to get people into supermarkets.

We all complain that young people drink far too much and the consequences of such actions are having a detrimental effect on society and our health in general.

But when you can buy a 500ml can of lager cheaper than a bottle of carbonated water you have a problem. And boy do we have a problem.

We all know that our A&E service is stretched to the limit and only on Friday last did we hear of a 100-year-old woman waiting an entire day on a trolley before a bed could be found for her.

Yet check with any A&E in any part of the country after any weekend and they will all tell you of the amount of resources wasted dealing with people either directly or indirectly because of alcohol abuse.

Even though changes to legislation are welcome, they should come with a health warning, and unless our attitude to alcohol abuse changes, very little else will, even if the price of a can of Dutch Gold doubles over the coming months.

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By Michael Godfrey
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