Hey Lifehacker, When I have a raging headache and I go to the chemist for some Nurofen Plus, the last thing I need is for some teenager to interrogate me about what I need them for. As far as I'm concerned it's none of their business whether I intend to take them as directed or freebase them in a primary school playground — I'm an adult purchasing a legally-available product. What are my rights and responsibilities in this situation, and can they refuse to sell them to me if I give an answer they don't like? Thanks, Just Give Me The Drugs
Pharmacy refusal picture from Shutterstock
This annoys me too. I used to be convinced that my pharmacist thought I was a drug addict until my wife assured me I look "too well-fed" to ever be mistaken for a junkie. Thanks for nothing, sweetheart.
Over recent years there have been growing concerns about the misuse of products containing codeine which is an addictive methylated morphine. Excessive codeine consumption can lead to a range of medical issues including gastro bleeds and kidney problems.
In 2010, the National Drugs and Poisons Schedule Committee introduced tighter controls for non-prescription codeine products in a bid to combat harmful overuse. In addition to new warning stickers on packaging, pharmacists are required to quiz customers about their familiarity with the drug.
This generally involves querying if you've used codeine before and the type of ailment that's troubling you. The pharmacist may also recommend that you restrict usage to three days and suggest a visit to your GP if you're a frequent repeat-customer.
In most cases, the questions will be polite and brief. If you feel like you're being interrogated, it could mean one of two things — either the pharmacy has a terrible bedside manner, or they've noticed you're buying too much codeine.
We asked our local pharmacist whether the answers a codeine customer provides actually make any difference to the purchasing outcome. She said that pharmacies are under no obligations to sell codeine products to a customer who gives an answer they don't like. (This isn't anything unusual — most retailers reserve the right to refuse service even when their products aren't potentially harmful.)
In other words, telling them you plan to use it to supplement your heroin addiction is probably a bad idea.
Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.