The government’s decision to expand the range of non-prescription drugs at convenience stores received a severe backlash from the pharmacist community. The expansion is the first time in five years since the government gave the green light for the sales of 13 over-the-counter drugs, such as Tylenol, Pancol A, and Festal, to convenience stores that completed specific training courses, in 2012.
This year, the government launched a committee to deliberate on the designation of safe, permanent store drugs to review the status quo of OTC drugs sold at convenience stores and reflect consumers' opinions on the policy.
The panel decided to add Gelfos, a gastric antiacid treatment, and Smecta, an antidiarrhoeic treatment, to the list in its fifth session, after reviewing their safety and considering overseas examples.
However, the vote fell through as Kang Bong-yoon, the policy head for the Korean Pharmaceutical Association (KPA) and one of the voters for the committee, tried to injure himself on the day of the vote.
Subsequently, the KPA held a rally in front of Cheong Wa Dae on Dec. 18, arguing that expanding the scope of non-prescription medications sold at convenience stores will increase the side effects and abuse of drugs. The association also boycotted the committee.
However, there are criticisms that the main reason for pharmacists opposing the decision is their concerns about declining sales.
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