Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Paracetamol hunt...

Two weeks ago I realized (a little late) that we were going through our paracetamol (tylenol) syrup much quicker than planned. I guess when you have different doctors working in the clinic, medication is prescribed in different ways. Makes sense. However, it caused somewhat of a dilemma. The supply that was supposed to have lasted until October, was almost finished. We had enough for 2 more clinic days at the rate we were going. What to do?

Seeing as we order our drugs months in advance, our September order had already been placed with a company in Holland. I knew I could try to add to the order, but these drugs wouldn't be shipped till September anyway, so this would not solve our immediate problem. Yikes. What to do? The only thing left to do was to go on a local paracetamol hunt.

So, that's what I spent part of a Saturday doing. Fortunately I had a contact for a guy in country selling drugs from the same company we use in Holland. So, I called him. Although he was at home that day (as should be on a Saturday) his colleague was working in the pharmacy. So I called her and we talked shop.

Yes, they have paracetamol syrup- but it would cost $70 for 5 Liters (compared to about $30 from Holland). I then thought of a better solution. Smaller dosed tablets. Sure enough, they also had 100mg tablets. These were 'only' $6 for 1000 tablets ($2 in Holland). So basically we could treat the same number of patients for $6 using tablets, as for $70 if we buy the syrup. I chose the tablets! It does mean that all kids over 6.5kg are getting tablets (so even babies) but these can be crushed and mixed with a little bit of water, and will be as effective. The remaining syrup will be cherished for the infants under 6.5kg! And luckily we were able to get 5L of syrup from another NGO here, which I will replace in October when our container comes.

Oh, the joys of running a clinic in Sierra Leone :)

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