McKinley continues to supply “medication packs”

As cold season arrives, the McKinley Health Resource Centers will continue to provide a variety of over–the–counter self–care supplies to University students free of charge.

According to a McKinley health handout, many students turn to “shotgun” remedies, which combine seven different drugs and claim to be cure–alls. Yet these products, sold at local drug stores, are expensive, and the doses may be inadequate for severe symptoms or too potent for mild symptoms, according to the handout.

One of seven medication packs provided by the HRCs, called “The Reliever,” includes single–ingredient cold medications such as a decongestants, lozanges, cough syrup and ibuprofen or Tylenol.

The packs, distributed in brown paper bags, are available to students as part of their health service fee, according to the McKinley Health Center Web site. Students can pick the cold packs up twice per semester.

“If a student needs more, they will need to consult with their physician and will be assisted accordingly,” said Jerry Ogbudimkpa, director of health education at McKinley.

Annie Colletti, senior in Media, said she has picked up a cold pack before.

“I find that a lot of the brands Walgreen’s offers work better for me,” Colletti said.

Many of the products from the packs are generic brands, such as Major or Cepacol, while Walgreen’s and CVS also sell name brands such as Advil or Tylenol.

Colletti said she thinks the health packs are still a great idea for students.

“I think it’s really handy for everybody and a lot of people use them all the time,” she said.

Jackie Beard, graduate student, said she thinks the cold pack is comparable to products sold at the drug store.

“I don’t feel like they are any less effective than what I might buy at the store,” Beard said.

Students must present their i–card before receiving any products but no prescription is necessary, Ogbudimkpa said.

The main HRCs are located in the lobby of McKinley Health Center, or at Oasis, Room 40 of the Illini Union. Supplies are also available at the African American Cultural Center and La Casa Cultural Latina.

“More items are moved at Oasis than any other location,” said Dr. David Lawrance, director of McKinley Health Center, in an e–mail.

Other packs provided by the HRCs include “The Informer,” a home pregnancy test kit, and “The Healer,” a wound care pack.

“The Protector” (condom pack) is also popular, Ogbudimkpa said.

“Both items (cold packs and condom packs) average over 17,000 users annually,” he added.

Ogbudimpka said if these medications were not available at the HRCs, it would take too long to distribute them through the pharmacy.

Lawrance said McKinley staff ensures the products do not expire.

“Since they are made up pretty much upon demand, there is no wasting of any of the packs or products,” he said. “Everything gets used.”

Ogbudimpka said they regulate the products to be cost effective. He added that condoms have the benefits of preventing STDs and pregnancy.

“The cost benefit is what you do to save lives,” he said. “You can not put a dollar amount on that.”