Proposed new bill allows for a stringent check and balance mechanism before medications are dispensed, says a senior official
Eisah A Rahman, the ministry’s director of pharmaceutical services, said: “It’s only in stand-alone clinics where general practitioners and private specialists prescribe and dispense medicines from within their facility.”
She explained that provisions under the Poisons Act 1952 (Act 366) only allow doctors and licensed pharmacists to supply medication classified as “scheduled poisons”.
“Prescription medicines includes‘scheduled poisons’ and the law does not provide for doctors to delegate the dispensing of such medicines to patients via clinic assistants,” she added.
Eisah stressed on the words “does not” because there are doctors who are illegally dispensing drugs which fall in this category.
Patients stand to benefit
On claims that Malaysia should adopt dispensing separation because it is practised in most developed countries, she agreed that the country should make a change.
“It allows for a check and balance mechanism as pharmacists are responsible for screening prescriptions for accuracy and appropriateness before it is dispensed to patients,” she said.
Eisah added that pharmacists are well versed in pharmacotherapy, thus enabling them to advise patients on the proper use of medication, including drug interactions and possible side-effects.
This view was also shared by a former top executive at Sanofi Aventis, a pharmaceutical company, who was interviewed by FMT recently.
James Thomas also explained that patients stand to benefit as well under the proposed new bill.
“Dispensing separation also allows for patients to make informed choices regarding their medication… whether to use branded or the less expensive generic medicines.”
Eisah said the proposed new Pharmacy Bill which was recently put up for public viewing and feedback, does not state that there has to be a separation of dispensing of medicines.
“The law seldom explicitly states there has to be a certain amount of leeway in the law to allow for its implementation in various situations,” she added, referring to emergency situations where doctors will be forced to dispense medication and in remote areas with little access to pharmacies.
However, Eisah claimed that the new law will provide for legalisation of specific guidelines and directives, adding that as Malaysia moves to a developed nation status, there will inevitably be changes in the healthcare system.
“Requirements such as good dispensing and distribution practices will definitely be put in place,” she said, stating that both doctors and pharmacists will have to comply with these new guidelines.