OPINION

A national addiction?

The revelation in a study by the National School of Public Health that we are a country of citizens who worship our medicines was hardly a bombshell – a quick search of most of our bags or pockets would probably suggest a similar conclusion. At the slightest cough or hot flush, we pop a pill (generally not one prescribed by the doctor but recommended by a friend or relative who took it when they were unwell and was «cured»). If we happen to feel a bit off while on the street or at work, we generally do not wait until we get home to take the «appropriate» medicine but rush to the nearest pharmacy to get yet another box of pills. So, it is hardly surprising to learn that one in three Greeks pops pills on a virtually daily basis nor that 28 percent of those questioned for the university’s study have a surplus of medicines at home. Even the revelation that 13 percent of the medicines we consume we pay for in full is not only due to the bureaucracy connected to acquiring subsidized medicines but also to our obsession with getting our drugs without delay. Greeks have displayed this dependence on drugs for several decades. In many other countries, you are obliged to have a doctor’s prescription to get medicine from a pharmacy. Here, it is not only light painkillers and aspirin that we can pick up like tins from supermarket shelves, but also antibiotics, laxatives, cough medicines and a range of other drugs…