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Vatican pharmacy does booming business

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By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Serving an average of more than 2,000 clients a day, the Vatican pharmacy may be one of the world’s busiest in-person dispensaries of pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter medicines, soaps, ointments and elixirs.

Run, since 1874, by the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God, the pharmacy continues to produce some of its own ointments and potions, Brother Thomas Binish Mulackal told the Vatican newspaper.

The Vatican’s own products include a cream for preventing bedsores, anise and quinine elixirs, six different fragrances of soap, lavender water, an anti-acne lotion and a specially produced aftershave, said Brother Mulackal, the pharmacy director.

The laboratory where the products are made — and where pharmacists mix some drugs to meet physicians’ exact prescriptions for their patients — is about to undergo an expansion, he said.

In an interview published Aug. 18 in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Brother Mulackal said the number of clients served each day averages between 2,000 and 2,500. About half of them are Vatican residents, employees and their family members. The rest come from outside the Vatican for medicines that are not available in Italy or are difficult to find. Outsiders must have a prescription and valid ID to enter.

The pharmacy, which includes a large personal hygiene, beauty and cosmetics section, stocks some 42,000 products, the brother said. The products come from Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany and the United States.

The top-selling products from abroad, he said, are: Bengay, a pain-relieving heat rub; Contractubex, a scar treatment ointment; Hamolind, a hemorrhoid treatment; Pantogar, sold to prevent hair loss; Osteo Bi-Flex for joint health; and Aspir-Low, a low-dosage aspirin.

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