London's only 24-hour pharmacy

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Can it possibly be that London, England, a city of about 7.5 million people, has only one 24-hour pharmacy. London News : 24-hour London. For a city that is a contender for "capital of the world", this is surprising. The reason this question comes up is the birth of our daughter Olivia, and the need for some medical equipment for my wife on a Sunday evening. Coming from the United States where the "I want it and I want it now" culture has produced a significant *spontaneous* 24-hour expectation, I was surprised to find that all of the typical suspects in pharmacy: namely Boots and Superdrug were closed, not merely in Putney, but almost everywhere.

Fortunately Zafash Pharmacy (near Earl's Court at 233 Old Brompton Road SW 5) was open, and I got from home there, did the transaction, and got back in 67 minutes via transit (The 22 bus and walking there, the 74 and 22 buses back). Google Maps puts it at 3.4 miles via road, and says 8 minutes (not a chance, even if I were in my car, even at 7 pm on a Sunday night).

One could talk about Zafesh, run by immigrants or maybe 2nd generation Londoners who have a unique entrepreneurial spirit, and how great that is. Though of course it would be par for the course in the US. In my mind the question isn't why they are open, but why the others are closed.

Perhaps regulation has something to do with it, I don't know the extent to which neighborhoods have imposed zoning regulations limiting hourly openings. Perhaps it is the costs of paying overtime. Perhaps is is the draining of the entrepreneurial spirit in this home to capitalism. In the US pharmacies are in fierce competition with supermarkets (which have been 24 hours in many locales for a couple of decades now, starting since they were doing overnight stocking anyway).

While I could understand why the local card shop isn't 24 hours, cards are not an emergency item, medicine is.

In addition to being bad for customers, it seems that business here is leaving money on the table.

1 Comment

David, hearty congratulations on Olivia! Emergency pharmacy searches aside, we wish you, your family (and the Zafash family) all the best.

David Levinson

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This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on March 16, 2007 1:35 PM.

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