Doctors must give prescription slip if patient requests it, says health minister

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad with director of Pharmaceutical Enforcement Department Tan Ann Ling (left) and director of the ministry’s Pharmaceutical Services Division, Dr Ramli Zainal.

PUTRAJAYA: Doctors are only obliged to provide prescriptions when patients request for them, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said today.

He said mandatory issuance of prescriptions could be introduced once the government addresses some obstacles.

Patients can complain to the ministry if doctors refuse their requests for the prescription slip, Dzulkefly said after a fiery townhall session with about 400 pharmacists in Putrajaya this evening.

In 2017, it was reported that the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) had pointed to flaws in a proposed Pharmacy Bill, which didn’t make it mandatory for doctors to issue prescriptions to their patients.

A section of the crowd of 400 pharmacists at the townhall session.

The same year, former health minister Dr S Subramaniam had announced that a new law giving patients the right to get their medicines from either doctors or pharmacists was expected to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat.

Pharmacists at the townhall session today voiced their frustration that they were unable to help patients in certain cases without the doctor’s prescription.

They told Dzulkefly that it was the patient’s right to choose where to buy their medication, be it at private clinics or pharmacies.

Doctors had argued that they should be allowed to dispense medicines to avoid problems and subsidise costs.

Pharmaceutical Enforcement Division director Tan Ann Ling said today implementing the policy would require amendments to the Poisons Act 1952.

“We propose that this be tabled in Parliament in the third parliamentary session,” he said.

However, Dzulkefly said the tabling of such amendments will depend on the Attorney-General’s Chambers.