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Flu Season over the Counter Medicine Restrictions in the UK

“Flu Season Medication Headaches” how customers are outnumbered and overruled when it comes to buying over the counter medicines.

When we are struck down by flu and feeling like we have been hit by a 10-ton truck, the last thing we need is to be denied the purchase of over-the-counter flu remedies be it from a supermarket or pharmacy because we are “over the limit” and may only purchase two analgesic items at a time. So if you need a supply of say, cough medicine, Beechams powders or Lemsip, paracetamols, aspirin or other extra strength pain relievers like Nurofen to help combat the dreaded flu or relieve those aches and pains and other flu symptoms, you will have a battle on your hands when disagreeing with a supermarket cashier, and you may well find yourself traipsing from store to store to stock up your supply.

How many people realise that this has been UK law for some time? And that it is to stop a vast majority of the population from overdosing and mixing medication? And what’s the point of supermarkets offering 1 off selected cold and flu remedies when you can only buy two items is this also a case of false advertising?

What about customer’s rights or the customer is always right policy?

In this case UK law is an ass, because the powers that be are bowing to the minority, and there is nothing from stopping a suicidal person from stocking up week on week or going from one supermarket or pharmacy to another in any one day. If the Government is so concerned for our health then why is there no limit on the number of cigarettes or bottles of alcohol one can buy? They are just as lethal and addictive.

Last winter, unaware of this ruling and being the good wife that I am, I decided to buy flu medication for my husband who was ill in bed and stopped off at Morrisons. I grabbed two packs of aspirin, Benylin cough medicine and Beechams Extra Strength not a lot of items, but can you imagine the quantity required should a whole family be ill in bed with the flu and I went to the cashier and stood in the queue. As soon as she saw me she duly informed me that only two items were allowed and no persuasion could make her budge otherwise. She cited company policy and national law. Even when I asked the gentleman behind me if he would buy my aspirin and I’d pay him, the cashier said she wouldn’t serve him knowing they were for me. So frustrated and annoyed I left the aspirin behind and purchased the stronger of the remedies. Then on the way home just popped into the Co-op to pick up the aspirin!

The next day I enquired at a couple of other supermarkets and at Boots, who indeed confirmed there is such a ruling. But not all is lost for on-duty pharmacists have the final say when it comes to stocking up on over-the- counter medication. You may get the third degree but depending on what you are purchasing, the reason behind the purchase and how many people in the family are sick, the pharmacist will use his discretion to approve your purchase. BUT should the pharmacist be off site, away for the day or at lunch say, then the counter assistants or cashiers have to adhere to the two item ruling.

The only other way round this dilemma is the contradictory solution of making a doctor’s appointment for a prescription where you can easily obtain a large dosage of 100 aspirin or 100 paracetamols as necessary. The problem with this is that any elderly person whose memory is bad could easily forget how many tablets they’ve taken and could very well overdose!

In these times when PC and Health & Safety regulations have gone into overdrive madness and when the UK is leaning ever more towards Americanisation, why not take a leaf out of our North American friends’ book when it comes to pharmaceutical drugs. Go to any drugstore in Canada and the States and you will find multi-packs of everything. Capped bottles of aspirin and well known brands of pain reliever i.e. Tylenol are sold by the 100s. Whenever my husband and I fly to Canada we always bring back a good supply. Or if I know my relations are sending over birthday or Christmas gifts I remind them to throw in a bottle of aspirin or Tylenol!

As a final resort one only has to buy online, for pills and tablets are sold by the 1000s yet how many of us really have the desire to go down that route when we shouldn’t have to.

As flu season is officially upon us despite many of us having suffered from flu and cold symptoms this past summer due to the miserable weather, let this article be a reminder to us all to start stocking up on flu remedies now.

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