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How cat-poo coffee led to three minutes of fame

Blogs are not edited by PJ staff*. The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Pharmaceutical Journal.

*Blog pieces that have previously been printed in the PJ and Clinical Pharmacist are edited.

By Admin Editor
29 Mar 2012

By Lin-Nam Wang

It all started with a cup of cat-poo coffee. Kopi luwak is made from coffee ART WOLFE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARYbeans ingested by Indonesian palm civets. They choose only the choicest beans and, it’s claimed, passing through the cat’s digestive tract improves the product. We were given some for Christmas and one evening decided to brew some up. Powerful stuff.  I lay awake for half the night. Eventually, bored, I got up and began to jot down my thoughts about a big bag full of unwanted medicines I’d been given that day and how cross I was about it.

Those scribbles turned into a blog for the PJ. The next thing I knew, I was in the back of a car being taken to BBC Television Centre in Shepherds Bush, thinking “What am I doing here? I’m an editor, not a speaker.”

“So, you’re a pharmacist,” said the driver, having overheard the interview I’d just given to BBC radio on my mobile. “Been on TV before?”

“No,” I fibbed, too nervous about my predicament to go into how, as a cute child, I’d appeared on ‘Blue Peter’, ‘Saturday superstore’ and that horror known as ‘Emu’s world’. (I divulge this now, safe in the knowledge that these were well before YouTube.)  On those shows the only danger was that stupid bird. No danger of being asked weaselly questions or being led by the interviewer into saying something I’d regret.

“Well, I think that what you’re doing is great. If you stop just 1% of people from wasting their medicines, that would be something,” the driver said.

That made me feel a bit better.

The interview on the news channel went by in a flash (waiting to go on seemed like forever) and, after a shaky start, I think I did ok, although it took me a couple of days before I could bring myself to watch it. What helped was some of the nice feedback I got. Medicines waste clearly resonates with many of us.

One pharmacist commented: “If every pharmacist took every opportunity to court the media as you have done we would transform the low profile of our profession almost overnight.” He’s a bit mistaken about the “courting of the media”, but it’s true that there are things we can do to improve our profile. All you need is a topic that people will care about and to put down what you think about it.

That could get you your three minutes of fame. You might love it. You could become the Carrie Bradshaw or the Rod Liddle of pharmacy!

So, get blogging! Come up with things in pharmacy that really get up your bugle and work out what you want to say about them. Keep blogs short (I recommend around 500 words), make them personal, a bit humorous, easy to read and provocative. Make them deliver your message and send them to

The cat-poo coffee is optional.