Every seed has a promise inside it, the promise of a beautiful flower. Similarly, every medicine that we take has the promise of healing inside it. All of us take medicines and do believe that these medicines are meant for our good health and are sure about some side effects and contra indications. Every patient is a consumer and he has every right to know what he is consuming, its quality, side effects etc. The recent press notes on the legal proceedings against M/s Merck & Co Inc., on Vioxx trials have forced the public to think twice on the side effects and dangers of taking a medicine rather than to believe in the promise of healing inside it. This article is a humble effort to share my experience in handling the medicines at home, which I think will be beneficial to the reader.


The prick of a needle


My daughter screamed for a while as the pharmacist administered the IM dose of Osetron injection on her little thighs, but she came to her moods as he offered a small packet of Perks to her,  (of course, he charged for it too) and she started to enjoy a little bit salty but sweet Perks bar. She was suffering from a bad viral fever and was vomiting for the whole day. We had consulted the paediatrician, and he had prescribed Osetron tablets as an anti emetic drug along with some anti pyretic tablets. Although we gave the first two doses of the tabs to her, she could not resist vomiting and the drugs could not give any results. It was under this circumstance that I telephoned the paediatrician, who advised to administer the same anti emetic drug through an intra-muscular injection and then followed by oral doses. The advice worked well and Angel did not vomit during the whole night and had a sound sleep. Vomiting is a nuisance both for the affected and the bystanders. It is true that the needle is painful, but it gives remarkable and quick effects to a patient suffering from nausea and vomiting and where the tablets find its way out.


 Some times doctors advise hospitalisation, just for the reason that the medicines are to be administered intra-muscular or intra-venous. As you know, it is a hell of affairs if you happened to be an in-patient – from the roaming army of mosquitoes to the disturbed rhythm of life to the patient, bystanders and to those at home. The acquired diseases during the period of hospitalisation are also a matter of concern. You can easily escape from such situations, if you can manage these injections from a nearby medical shop or a nursing home. If you are lucky enough to have a good nurse as your neighbour, then it will be more convenient, but request the doctor to prescribe medicines for injection (especially antibiotics) which have 12 hours / 24 hours of action, instead of those with 6 hours or 8 hours of action. So, next time request the doctor for having such an arrangement, so that the patient and the family members enjoy the homely environment rather than suffer the busy and worried hospital way of life.


Nursing at Home  


Each medicine will take some time for the onset of action and the duration of action varies from medicine to medicine. Therefore, medicines are to be taken in the exact intervals as prescribed. Then, does it mean to take a three times a day medicine along with the breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Never, you have to take the medicines in the intervals of eight hours and if it is a four-course medicine, as in case of antipyretics during the first two days of infection, you have to take the medicines exactly at every six hours. If not advised otherwise, medicines shall not be taken in an empty stomach mainly for two reasons. High concentration of the medicine in the stomach may result in poor absorption of the medicine on one hand and on the other hand, it may trigger a sense of vomiting and discomfort in the patient. Usually, your stomach will be empty 3 hours after the intake of the food and you can take the medicines along with half a cup of light tea or with a mouthful of snacks.


Make it a point to write the name of the medicine on its cover and ensure you put the remaining medicines back in to the respective packets after use.  Do not keep or store medicines in reach of children and surely not in reach of the aged too. Remember the story of that grand mother who administered the nasal drops orally and the vitamin drops through the nostrils of her grand daughter. 


Fever is considered to be a symptom of some underlying infection and the treatment of fever is an area, where we must be very careful. Do not hesitate to increase the dosage or frequency of antipyretics in case the fever is not subsiding. Call your doctor and get his advise in this regard. Every curable disease has its beginning, peak and subsiding stages. One need not get worried just for the reason that the condition is not improving even after consulting the doctor and starting the course of medicines. It is your anxious mind that sees things in a much complicated and pessimistic manner. The time can and will heal everything including your sad memories. However, do not hesitate to consult the doctor, if the situation is getting worse even after 2 days medication. Giving a brief bath in lukewarm water or wiping the patient with a wet towel will give immediate relief from high fever. In patients with respiratory tract infections, cough, cold, etc., inhalation of steam is going to give a great relief.


Know your Medicines


It is always recommended that you know your medicines, viz., what is it meant for. The simplest method is to ask the pharmacist about the indications for which the prescribed medicines are being used. If you know these indications you can think of taking one more antipyretic tablet in case the temperature is not under control, or try another dose of anti emetic tablet in case the earlier dose found its way out in vomiting, or to get rid of your aching limb, you can have one more analgesic tablet.


If you are interested, you can think of buying a book on drug review viz., IDR, MIMS, CIMS etc. Here the full details of preparations available in India are given under various heads. You can get the chapter wise description of medicines under Central Nervous System, ENT, Respiratory System, and Gastro Intestinal Tract etc. Each medicine is discussed on various aspects like how it acts, how long will it take for the onset of action, how long the medicinal effect lasts, what are the side effects and the precautions to be taken while taking the specific drug. From these reference books, we can also find out the cost of various brand names but containing the same drug component.


The generic and brand names


Medicines that we take contain some chemical or natural substance, which have their own names called the generic names. The drug manufacturers market these substances under various brand names. Hence, you can have a large number of brand names containing the same drug or drugs. For example, Ibuprofen is the generic name of a drug used as a painkiller and this drug is available in the market under various brand names viz., Ibugin, Emflam, and Febrilix etc. Similarly, Amoxycillin Trihydrate is the generic name of an antibiotic commonly prescribed because of upper respiratory tract infections and this antibiotic is available under the brand names of Mox, Imox, Hipen, Pressmox etc. The drug reference books have both the generic name index as well as brand name index and it is easy to get the details of the individual medicines, provided you know either of the two names. This piece of information will help us to be very precise and think on the generic name basis rather than on the brand names.


The Commercials


Last year, the physician had prescribed a tablet named Dobest for my mother, which contains the chemical under the generic name Calcium Dobesilate. The drug is used by patients with varicose vein disorders. Although I searched 5 medical shops for this medicine, I could not get it. However, all the shops were able to offer substitutions in place of Dobest. By this time, the banker in me had already made stories on the said physician’s tie up with the Dobest drug manufacturer just for the commission & brokerage. At last, I got the tab from a medical shop, being run by my college mate, with whom I enquired the reason for the shortage. The answer was thought provoking. “The cost is less and so the selling commission too.” Then he showed me the CIMS drug reference book which read as follows-


Brand Name

Price per 10 tabs


Rs. 95.00


Rs. 95.00


Rs. 75.00


Rs.  103.00


Rs.  130.00


Yes, there are doctors who prescribe medicines and write requests for clinical tests for the benefit of the patients with out any vested interests. With the help of drug reference guides, you can compare the price of different brands and even switch over to the substitutes available in the market.  


Some Tips and Tales


We spend nearly 8 hours a day in our bedrooms, where the doors, windows and ventilators (if possible) are well latched. Mosquitoes, robbers, the peeping eyes, the list goes on. Sleeping 8 hours in a poorly ventilated room is surely going to make you sick and blocked nostrils, head ache, lack of sound sleep, respiratory tract and ENT infections, recurring chest infections (especially in children) are going to be your way of life. You can think of fixing an exhaust fan at the top corner of your bedroom and start enjoying the sleep in a well-ventilated environment.


Vomiting and dysentery are generally considered the symptoms of an infected gastro intestinal tract. However, never take medicines immediately to cull these disorders. These can also be the physiological ways of expelling the poisonous or contaminated food that you enjoyed. So, it is suggested to wait for some time, so that your stomach or bowl is emptied out, and then consider steps for medication.


Headache is a common health problem and you get it for many reasons starting from the mere exposure to perfumes to that of a critical tumour. I used to get headache especially on Sundays and holidays. (I swear, because of neither she nor the kids) It is always our inclination to consult a specialist rather than a physician, even in case of a general health problem like headache, body pain, stomach pain, pain in the joints etc. The guy who is planning to visit an eye specialist on account of a severe head ache is surely going to come back with a pair of glasses! However, the root cause can be of a poor haemoglobin count in the blood or it can be a case of hypertension. I have never seen an eye specialist checking the BP of a patient or requesting some blood tests. So, next time, let us visit a physician on account of a general health problem and let him assess your fitness first and if required, let him refer you to the specialist.


Keeping some stock at home


We should keep some medicines at home to use it in case of an emergency. The general class includes antipyretics and analgesics and the specific class includes the probable medicines that the family takes. For example, if one of the family members is suffering from Asthma, there must be sufficient stock of specific medicines prescribed by the doctor to counter an unexpected attack at home. Specific medicines if any, prescribed on account of hypertension, anxiety, nervous disorders, diabetics, cardiac and allergic disorders, etc. are to be made available at home to meet an exigency. In case of an added emergency, never take the patient to the doctor’s residence, but to the nearest hospital for availing the medical assistance.


The story of Vioxx


On September 30, 2004, the blockbuster drug VIOXX was withdrawn from the worldwide market. This prescription painkiller had generated sales in excess of $2 billion annually and had been prescribed to more than 20 million Americans. After five years on the market, VIOXX - which had been marketed as a “miracle drug” and was the object of the biggest launch in Merck’s history - was withdrawn because of serious safety issues including cardiac failure. Vioxx is a painkiller and contains the drug called Rofecoxib, which had been prescribed to patients with complaints of joint pain on account of Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis. This class of medicines which are also known as Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) prevent the formation of prostaglandin in our body that causes oedema and pain at the site of tissue breakdown that takes place on account of arthritis. With the withdrawal of this drug from the market, nearly 4500 compensation suits against M/s Merck & Co. Inc. have been filed in the US courts.


But, we Indians are not at all safe just because we have not taken Vioxx from M/s Merck. A large number of brand names with Rofecoxib inside it were very much popular in Indian markets too. Dolib, Doloroff, Mcrofy, Ozex and Rofiz were the few among those popular brands and these drugs were there in our market till Sept. 2004.


Before I conclude


I have not dared to pen many experiences in the area of medicine at home, for it is not decent for a banker to explore further in this subject. But I am sure you can browse the net to get further details, tips and newsletters on medicine at home. Information on the side effects of a drug, its method of action, the precautions to be taken etc. are all freely available through the net. I recommend you to visit the websites,,, or for exploring further in this subject.