Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Be Pharmsavvy

With five exams and a written essay due this week, yours truly N.B. is quite the busy student. But like almost all students, I have been working for years to perfect procrastination, making it more of a science than an art. As such, I have more than enough time to keep up with the blog world--sorta. For your daily update, here's a bit of pharmaceutical trivia that will make you look smarter. Or smart-assier. But if you get as much pleasure out of nitpicking and semantics as I do, you're in for a treat.

The word "pill" is commonly used to refer to any oral dosage form that is swallowed, be it a tablet or capsule. "I need my pills," my patients often say, or, my personal favorite, "I need my pill," which, even without looking at the patient or hearing a voice, means nine times out of ten that the patient in question is female and looking for her oral contraceptive to be refilled.

But pills are an archaic dosage form that is no longer used, made by pharmacists rolling measured amounts of active ingredient into balls of beeswax or other materials. Nowadays, oral dosage forms are typically pre-made in large factories instead of being compounded on-site at the pharmacy. Most outpatient pharmacies, except those that specialize in compounding, do not make their own tablets (which requires a lot of machinery) or capsules (which is considerably easier).

So you don't take "pills." Nobody has taken pills for years, because nobody dispenses pills anymore as they aren't manufactured en masse by the industry.

Maybe this knowledge will propel you to victory on some game show someday. Then again, maybe not.

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