I think Panadol as we know them, or more accurately known as paracetamol, is the most well-known medicine of all. Whenever we have a headache, toothache, a little fever, the flu - just chuck two of these white pills in, take a nap and everything will be okay.
But a recent study conducted in over 200,000 children found strong evidence that giving paracetamol to a baby increases the likelihood of the baby suffering asthma by 1.5 fold.
This is besides the fact that taking more than 4g of the drug at a single day will increase your risk of liver failure. 4g is like just 8 standard tablets, and paracetamol can come in packs of 100. That's like 50g of potentially lethal drug on your cupboard. I never knew that fact before I studied pharmacy.
Maybe we didn't really notice how dangerous it is because it is so readily available in supermarkets and grocery stores. Dangerous for us are things that we can't buy legally like ecstasy and morphine. When it comes to medicines, I think those of us in Malaysia are pretty ignorant. We are so used to following doctors' order that we lost the desire to empower ourselves with knowledge about the medications we often take, like Panadol.
Now that we are learning about health promotion in pharmacy, I suddenly realised that there are a lot of 'empowering people' activities that I can do in Malaysia. People should not just follow orders, but questioning them all the time. Perhaps that's something I can focus my energy on next year. That thought left me pretty much excited - ah.. a new challenge!