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Kinda Funny Story about Pseudoephedrine HCl

In a normal downstairs drugstore US, there are professional pharmacist there. This story probably won't happen as often.

Paranasal Sinuses


Pseudoephedrine (soo-doe-e-FED-rin) is used to relieve nasal or sinus congestion caused by the common cold, sinusitis, and some allergies, such as hay fever.  It is also used to relieve ear congestion caused by ear inflammation or infection. 


 Pseudoephedrine HCl

The long awaited typhoon finally arrived and
with it the much needed rain.  The temperature
dropped drastically, and my sinus succumbed
to the lowered pressure.  I had about seven
Sudafeds left.  Before leaving United States,
I stocked up all the prescription drugs, but
figured they must have the same over the
counter stuff in Taiwan.

The secretary (a certain Miss Lin with an
English name Shelley) at the math center told
me to go to the local drugstore called
"The Watson's" (This is like the 51st state. 
Of course its Chinese name "Chu-chen-shi" has
nothing to do with "Watson's".  Note you need
to pronounce the "u" in "Chu" as the French do. 
Ain't Chinese lovely?).  Needless to say,
Sudafeds were no where to be found.  The woman
behind the counter gave me a puzzled look when
I said I wanted some Sudafeds.  I then looked
at my empty drug box and said "Pseudoephedrine HCl". 
Her look essentially said "Get a grip, I am
not a doctor." So I said, "Is there another
drugstore somewhere nearby that may have them?" 
She said, "Oh just keep walking and eventually
you will bump into another one", so I started
walking.  Soon I saw a sign that said "So and
so's clinic, graduate of Taiwan University and
educated in U.S."  I said to myself, "Well, there
I go," but then realized that it would be a mess
to use my U.S. health insurance here, so I kept
on walking.  In about 30 seconds, I saw another
sign that said, "Western and traditional Chinese

"I want some Sudafeds", I said sheepishly.  The
man behind the desk looked at the box I handed
him.  "Where are you from, U.S.?  Are you
teaching here?  What do you teach?"  "Oh,
mathematics.  Do you have any Sudafed?"  He
looked at the box for a few moments and said,
"No, and I don't think you will find anything
like that in Taiwan, but we do have cold medicines.
How about some Contac or the local variant Weiger?" 
I looked at the price--90 yan for 6 pills (exchange
rate: 30 yan to $1).

"Do you have any Pseudoephedrine HCl?"

"What is that?  Oh check out this book".  He
handed me a book the size of the Boston telephone

There was nothing under Sudafed, but I found
Pseudoephedrine HCl in the index.

He took one look at that line and said, "Oh,
fake Ma-huang extract" (he said its Chinese
equivalent, even though the index was English
only).  "That stuff is cheap, 3 yans a pill. 
How many do you need?"

"About 30."

"Ok, 90 yans," he started scooping the pills into
a small zip-lock bag and I began to read the
descriptions (page 8722A) of the drug.  The text
was written in Chinese with English words, such as
Pseudoephedrine, studded from place to place.  Just
then a little boy came in with his mother.  The guy
handed me the bag, then grabbed a flash light to
greet them.  I thought that was interesting... 
He then turned on the flash light and the boy
opened his mouth.  "Yea, yea, he is sick, but it
is no big deal.  He doesn't need any medicine." 
And off went the mother and son.

The side effects for Pseudoephedrine include (not
an exact translation): increase of blood pressure
and heart rate, hyper-tension, insomnia, nightmare,
cold sweat and etc.  Those who are infirm, old,
young, man, woman and in general human beings
shouldn't take this stuff.

"Oh never mind those.  These days, the pharmacists
in Taiwan write the way they do in the United States. 
They include every bit of every little problem no
matter how trivial it is.  Believe me, I have a
degree in pharmacy."

I looked at the book again.  It was translated
from Japanese.


Encyclopedia Article from Encarta

Ephedrine, drug that acts like adrenaline on the sympathetic nervous system (sympathomimetic). Once used to relieve bronchospasm in asthma, it has been superseded by safer, more specific drugs. It is contained in some cold remedies as a decongestant. Side effects include rapid heartbeat, tremor, dry mouth, and anxiety.

Ephedrine is an alkaloid, C10H15NO, derived from Asian gymnosperms (genus Ephedra) or synthesized. It is sometimes misused, and excess leads to mental confusion and increased confidence in one's own capabilities as they actually decline.