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32

No, it is not a streamlined version of the answer to life, the universe and everything. It is the maximum number of aspirin in a bottle available at the local Clear Pharmacy. According to the Pharmacist on duty, that is the largest number sellable without a prescription.

I am sure I looked perplexed with my jaw hanging open during the few speechless moments before I came out with the only answer I could think of: “You must be joking.”

Before you get too uppity about freedom in America… the last time I bought 24 Hour Cold Capsules in Manhattan I had to sign a register so the government could make sure I was not going to use them to make ‘speed’.

“We’re from the Government. We’re here to help you.”

Not.

PS: Can anyone confirm this is really, genuinely true? I am still having trouble believing it myself. It is just, too absurd.

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23 comments to 32

  • Kevin B

    Dale, in Sainsburys they sell generic Ibruprofen in 16 tablet packs and the cashiers wont let you buy more than 2 packs. I followed a little old lady in the checkout queue once and since she had 2 ibuprofen packs and 2 aspirin packs she had to make a choice. Of course her real choice was to go to her GP and get a script where she could get hundreds of each free.

    The government, however, has your best interests at heart. You might, after all, be contemplating topping yourself.

    (Yes, this really is the justification.)

  • ian

    Not true I’m afraid. I bought 100 ibuprofen from Boots last week. Over 32 have to be sold by a pharmacist, but you don’t need a prescription.

  • Dale Amon

    The last time I bought aspirin was at a Duane Reade. 250 of the 350mg tablets in a plastic bottle, off the shelf.

    I suspect I’ll buy my next bottle there and just bring it back.

    The State can go to hell.

  • cirby

    On the other hand, I bought a bottle of 100 aspirin at the local grocery store here in the US, and was only prevented from taking it right off the shelf by a stockboy with a big stack of cardboard boxes.

  • Try buying aspirin in Germany.

    They are still convinced the stuff is a major-league pharmaceutical. You have to argue with the pharmacist to get it sold without a prescription … you get a tube, with maybe a dozen spherical pills.

  • n005

    Yes, I daresay it’s true. I’ve run into this sort of thing shopping at Target.

    I’m in Texas, by the way.

  • No problems with any of this stuff; it’s pretty much sold over the counter here in Malaysia.

    You can get Panadol in 100s and buy as much as you want. I believe Neurofen is the same; but it’s true most people don’t use aspirin here, don’t know why.

  • marc in calgary

    in Canada, I’ve found the upper limit for generic ibuprofen is 144 x 400 mg. on the counter, not over the counter. and it’s about $12. Canadian.
    This is in a grocery store pharmacy (chemist) although I have found the same with a different name at Walmart here. The cashier couldn’t care what you have in the cart, she finishes work at 9.pm and just don’t bother her for counting out your change… it’s too difficult. numbers and all you know…

    and this is in the west, not Toronto or other super regulated city, although we are marching toward that as well… sorry to say we’ve a liberal mayor.

    Aspirin and Tylenol are priced similar for generic types… same numbers in a container too.

    interestingly, they all say, do not take more than 2 pills x 3 or 4 times a day, regardless of the dosage. (200 or 400 mg each) it seems as long as the disclaimer is clear, the real message is moot.

    so, I’m not complaining, especially regarding the nanny state gone wild in Germany… really, you need to make your own pills?

    and er.. how about the great football match today… (well somebody had to say something.)

  • wb

    Same deal with cold and flu pills in oz. Have to show a driver’s licence and the chemist takes your details down for a register (that thankfully isn’t yet fully online and automated so the checking is still by the police at specific chemists. You only get one pack at a time and the intention is to stop me becoming a ‘speed’ manufacturer. Ack, as if I ever wanted to do that. And the choice is homebrand cold and flu with lower grade ingredients so they don’t have the same effectiveness on the sinuses. It’s real nannystate big brotherish but pathetically executed. Had no idea it was happneing Stateside as well.

  • wb

    Same deal with cold and flu pills in oz. Have to show a driver’s licence and the chemist takes your details down for a register (that thankfully isn’t yet fully online and automated so the checking is still by the police at specific chemists. You only get one pack at a time and the intention is to stop me becoming a ‘speed’ manufacturer. Ack, as if I ever wanted to do that. And the choice is homebrand cold and flu with lower grade ingredients so they don’t have the same effectiveness on the sinuses. It’s real nannystate big brotherish but pathetically executed. Had no idea it was happneing Stateside as well.

  • Yes, it’s true. Pseudophedrin is an ingredient in methamphetamine.

  • Carl

    I had cause to look into this for my brother-in-law…

    This was what I found and sent on to him:

    ———————————–
    [quote]
    29.4 Are there any restrictions on the sale of GSL (non-prescription) medicines?
    Under the Medicines Act 1968, supermarkets, garages and other shops are allowed to sell painkillers such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Paracetamol in small packs of no more than 16 tablets.

    Other basic non-prescription medicines may also be sold on a self-select basis.

    The premises from which GSL medicines can be sold must be a building that can be locked to exclude members of the public.

    29.5 Can I sell more than one pack of 16 Paracetamol, Ibuprofen or Aspirin tablets in one transaction?
    The sale or supply of more than 100 Paracetamol, Ibuprofen or Aspirin tablets at any one time is restricted to prescription control. It is therefore permissible to sell several packs of 16 tablets providing that the total number of tablets sold in a single transaction does not exceed 100.
    [/quote]
    http://www.askcedric.org.uk/businesses.php?busid=230&listid=112&sec=29#anchor4

    This is also interesting, albeit a bit long winded and specific to Northern Ireland in parts:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:U3cQkxf4cpwJ:www.psni.org.uk/documents/75
    ———————————–

  • UK supermarkets will limit the amount you can buy at the checkout because the staff there aren’t pharmacists. I’ve bought 100 400mg ibuprofen at my local chemist and apart from a few searching questions there’s been no problem.

    If you did top yourself (hard to do with ibuprofen, even harder with aspirin) then the pharmacist may well be questioned on it, but that’s about it.

  • Debbie

    I just bought 1000 count bottle of Ibuprofen.

    I do remember a few years ago, I was sick as a dog, a rare occurance, and went to the drug store to get sudafed and a mercury thermometer, which I believe to be most accurate and I’d lost mine in my move. Come to find out I had to show ID to get sudafed and that mercury theromometers were no longer sold to rubes like me. ANyway, there I am, feverish, sick and raging outloud against a nanny state what wouldnt let me have my thermometer of choice and how frakking methheads should be shot. Got tired of the sound of my own voice quite quickly and left with no thermometer or sudafed:)

  • Kevin B

    The NHS has passed treatments for some minor ailments down to pharmacists. They will ask you the same searching questions your GP will ask.

    “What’s the problem Mr. B?”
    “Bad Back.”
    “What are you taking for it.”
    “Ibuprofen.”
    “Does this hurt?”
    “Ouch!”
    “Keep taking the Ibuprofen.”
    “Bye Doc.”

    The pharmacist may not twist your neck to see if it hurts but he will charge you more for name brand and generic drugs than a supermarket.

    Also, dressing all in black and singing the theme song from MASH may be contraindicated.

  • The way to get round this in England (apart from go supermarket-hopping – Sansbury, Tesco, Morrisons and ASDA are usually within a short distance of each other in most city locations) is to go to a boot sale.

    The stallholders (and there’s usually one selling pharmacueticals) don’t care how much you buy… ;)

  • knirirr

    I have encountered this restriction in several supermarkets. They claim that it is the law that forces them to apply this restriction but I am not aware of exactly which law it might be. I don’t think it’s quite the same in pharmacists, but they have complained at me for buying too many pills before.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Never mind restricting the public’s access to harmless little pills. How about controlling access to that far more deadly poison salt?!!

    (PS. There are often a few other interesting articles at the same site.)

  • John Daragon

    The law is The Medicines(Sale or Supply)(Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment (No 2) Regulations 1997.

    It restricts non-pharmacy sale of Aspirin and Paracetamol to 16-tablet packs, and requires sale of 100 tablets or more to be authorised by a doctor. Most commercial vendors will limit a sale to two packs of 16 (there’s some voluntary code sponsered by the MHRA), but (at least last year) Poundland and the 99p shop were refusing to comply and selling 3 packs for £1.

    jd

  • Andy

    I have encountered this restriction in several supermarkets. They claim that it is the law that forces them to apply this restriction but I am not aware of exactly which law it might be.

    What’s even more anally retentive about this is when shopping with my wife some weeks ago the supermarket checkout girl stopped three packs of 16 neurofen going through telling us she couldn’t sell more than 32 in one transaction. It’s arse covering at its very worst. So what happens? My wife passes a pack back to me to purchase on its own. Somehow that is OK. FFS

  • cc

    In Pennsylvania CVS will sell you any number of 500 pill asprin bottles. Sometime they have 1000 pill bottles. Same for Tylenol and Ibuprophen.

  • Megaera

    AFAIK, the only quantity restrictions in the US for OTC drugs are on pseudoephedrine which is a major ingredient in meth, hence the limits on purchases of sudafed and similar generics — and signature requirements, depending on jurisdiction.

  • Alasdair

    cc and Megaera – here in sunny So Cal, at our local Costco, the 500 or 1000 tablet/pill/capsule bottles for the standard NSAIDs are standard … the meth ingredients are more restricted …

    Of course, the 1000 Generic Aspirin bottle still has it’s Sell-By date in the next year or two … a risk I am willing to run ! (I’ve yet to find anywhere scientific and unbiased saying that Aspirin that is kept dry and at reasonable temperatures deteriorates significantly in anything under a decade)