Cough syrup addict: pharmacy blamed


The pharmacist didn’t ask questions when Andries Vermaak* went in to buy four bottles of cough syrup. Neither did he ask what had happened to the eight bottles Andries had bought 15 minutes earlier.

And when the same 45-year-old customer arrived the next day to buy another six bottles none of the pharmacy staff tried to stop him.

Over a period of four months Adlams pharmacy in Carletonville, North West, sold Andries 183 bottles of Lenazine Forte syrup.

Most pharmacists know when someone asks specifically for Lenazine Forte it’s usually not to treat a persistent cough. It can be an addictive drug.

Yet between 1 November 2009 and 21 February this year Adlams sold more than 18 litres of this cough syrup to Andries, an artisan who lives in Fochville, near Carletonville. That’s just the quantity his family is aware of.

The family is furious with the pharmacy and say the staff knowingly supported his addiction for months.

The pharmacist, Johan du Toit, admits he knew his customer was an addict. “I wanted to help him,” he tries to explain. “As long as I sold it to him I could control how much syrup he was drinking.”

This kind of help was the last thing Andries needed. He had been addicted for nearly two decades to the cough syrup, which contains the stimulant ephedrine and the highly addictive drug codeine.

His family is so furious they have laid a complaint at the South African Pharmacy Council. They are also considering claiming for damages.

Meanwhile Andries has once again been admitted to a rehabilitation centre. His liver and kidneys are already affected, there’s blood in his urine and his doctor says it is a miracle he’s still alive.

The Pharmacy Council is investigating the case, which could lead to a fine or the temporary or permanent suspension of the pharmacist.

Read the full article in the YOU of 22 April 2010

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Read your favourite magazine in a convenient PDF form.
Read now