Kneeling to the intensive lobbying of 60,000 pharmacists, the National Assembly has decided against allowing supermarkets to sell non-prescription drugs, including cold medicine, fever reducers and painkillers. The legislative body is under fire for doing nothing ahead of the parliamentary elections in April.
The sabotage goes against public sentiment. It is a dereliction of duty and a breach of trust against the voters. More than eight out of every 10 Koreans back the over-the-counter sale of household medicines such as pain relief patches and digestive aids. The government also supports the program.
The pharmacists are blind to their own selfish interests, but they behave in a contradictory way. Past midnight and on holidays, patients cannot buy such medicines as drugstores are closed.
They claim that OTC sales would cause health problems for the abuse of drugs. Then why do the American supermarkets sell such items at supermarkets? Are American pharmacists not interested in protecting the health of the citizens? Pharmacists have no room for defending their anachronistic greed.
Voters must weed out lawmakers opposing the OTC sales in the general elections next year. OTC sales should received renewed attention from the National Assembly. Lawmakers are representatives of the people, not only pharmacists and lobbyists.