Color Coded Medicine in North Nazimabad

Posted on December 11, 2010
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Health & Disease, Photo of the Day
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Owais Mughal

On my last visit to Pakistan I got a sore throat. My family offered to take me to a doctor in Block B of North Nazimabad who was both ‘acha aur sasta’ (good and cheap). He was ‘acha’ because he had an authentic MBBS degree and ‘sasta’ because he charged a flat fee of Rs 5 per day only no matter whether you had common cold or had an acute case of Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanosconiosis (<-- this is a legitimate disease by the way).

Ok. since my family had got me on 'acha aur sasta', I went along and got my own medicine which came with a surprise. The doctor asked me which color of medicine would I prefer. Not completely understanding the question I mechanically uttered "g g green" and a green color syrup I got in next 5 minutes.

After we came home, I collected all the bottles from all the patients of this doctor we had in our household and took the following group photo of everybody's medicine. See my cute little green bottle - standing second from the right.

I asked the doctor that why does he do that? He told me that the rationale behind color coded medicine is that it prevents accidental wrong use in a houshold so that Parveen doesn’t drink Nasreen’s syrup and Parvez stays away from Nasir’s. I thought about it for 5 seconds. It made some sense but there still was a chance of error because this scheme was not completely ‘poka-yoke’ (mistake proof) but I kept quiet thinking this was not a time to do Buqratiat (acting smart).

This doctor offers to color code his medicine not only according to number of patients in the household but also by how many ailments a patient has got.

So for example, one scheme can be Chunoo Mian gets yellow syrup, Surraya gets red syrup and Hidayatullah Saheb gets green syrup. The other scheme can be that daada abba’s ‘weham’ (placebo) gets yellow syrup, tonic comes in red, a condition called ‘jia karay dhak dhak dhak’ (aka palpitations) gets green syrup and another condition called ‘akhion mein akhian dal ke na tak’ (aka comatose) gets blue syrup.

I took this medicine a year ago (2009). I survived and my sore throat got cured. I waited this whole year to write these lines in case some delayed reaction happened. But nothing happened. I think this doctor and his ways and means make Pakistan a more colorful place and that is what qualified him to be on these pages.

16 Comments on “Color Coded Medicine in North Nazimabad”

  1. Farrukh says:
    December 12th, 2010 1:23 am

    Isn’t it better to have color coded bottles than the medicines. Wonder what color pigment is used in medicines

  2. Nihari says:
    December 12th, 2010 2:16 am

    Can this blog be regarded as the delayed reaction? lol….should have examined the content in a lab….it would have been a huge service to the rold of medicine

  3. aneela z says:
    December 12th, 2010 3:04 am

    there is some merit in the scheme as i do know of a generation which only feels treated if they have had that “lal goli” ( a painkiller) but woe upon you if you are color blind. Did the doc ask you about that Owais?

  4. Sameer says:
    December 12th, 2010 4:45 am

    There is big chance that the syrup does not have any medicinal properties, it is the psychology of the people who gets them cured.
    E.g. if you have headache or common cold, it shall last few days if you take medicine or not.
    Good thing about the coloured medicine that it did not harm to you, but people should avoid such medication. Even the cheap tablets cost more that five how can he give medication/day in 5Rs, just think.

  5. Nazneen says:
    December 12th, 2010 6:21 am

    The syrup itself might not be that harmful but the colours can have long-term adverse effects as these are all harmful artificial chemicals especially blue. Our biochemistry teacher told us that it’s the same colour used to dye dupattas. Good for you that you’re healthy, but people should be more careful especially in a country hardly following drug-related laws.

  6. December 12th, 2010 8:39 am

    Whenever I goto the doctor in our area due to illness, he always give me few tablets, an injection and such colored bottle syrop. I think they made this liquied themselves by mixing.

  7. Allahkabanda says:
    December 12th, 2010 9:59 am

    very interesting post!!

  8. Shahran says:
    December 12th, 2010 1:05 pm

    This is really good simple post which focussed on the geniune physicians in a country where we always see quacks (attaee) in the news.
    I do remember mask Dawai “mercury chrome” which was used for any injury

  9. WordPress Guru says:
    December 12th, 2010 1:08 pm

    I could not stop laughing.

    I recognize these bottles as my doctor use to gave me tonic/mixture in similar bottles.

  10. YASIN says:
    December 12th, 2010 3:13 pm

    Owais, ‘sasta ilaj’ is like ‘sasti shohrat’. Beware of it.

  11. SH Kavi says:
    December 12th, 2010 3:48 pm

    So placebo works on you. How about that?

  12. MQ says:
    December 12th, 2010 4:29 pm

    I hope the doctor uses boiled water in these mixtures.

  13. Sajjad Junaidi says:
    December 12th, 2010 5:46 pm

    Owais, are you sure it was Rs 5, or was it Rs50? You did not explain what per day means. If you need to go again in the same day, he will see you at no extra cost.
    We had a doctor in our neighborhood who used to give coloured syrup but he only had three colours. His assistant used to empty few capsules in the syrup or grind few tablets to mix them in the syrup. His Nuskha used to say yellow three times a day and green just before going to bed.
    Then there was medical store next door, his nephew was running that place. Same doctor must be the owner as well. Without fail you would get a script to buy medicine from pharmacy.

  14. Owais Mughal says:
    December 12th, 2010 10:41 pm

    @Farrukh. Smart idea. I believe using colored bottles will make the cost go high.

    @Nihari – :) You are right. This might very well be the delayed reaction of that green syrup

    @Sameer and Aneela- I agree. The colored syrups may have been nothing but just placebo effect.

    @Shahran – are you talking about ‘lal dawai’ – i remember this ‘lal dawai’ which was used on every kind of external injury.

  15. Owais Mughal says:
    December 12th, 2010 10:44 pm

    @Sajjad. I believe it was Rs 5. Per day meant this colored syrup and a few tablets. Who knows this syrup is just ‘placebo effect’ and basically free of cost to the doctor.

  16. aamir says:
    December 12th, 2010 11:20 pm

    i hope he atleast uses food colors, if not plant based ones.

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