IT is an issue that resurfaces every so often – should doctors only prescribe, while pharmacists dispense?
The latest bout of verbal sparring has come about after it was reported in this paper that pharmacists hoped that the separation of dispensing rights would be accepted by the Health Ministry and come into effect on April 1.
Doctors have responded to this with arguments that seek to protect their “inherent” right to dispense medicines to their patients.
This issue is not limited to Malaysia alone. In countries where doctors dispense medicines, calls have also been made to separate prescribing and dispensing duties.
Even in countries where there’s a separation of duties, it’s not a totalitarian rule.
For example, the American Medical Association Code of Ethics provides that physicians may dispense drugs as long as there is no patient exploitation and patients have the right to a prescription that can be filled elsewhere.
Some doctors in the United Kingdom, especially in rural areas, are allowed to prescribe and dispense medicines to their patients.
At the root of the issue lies a “competitive” relationship between doctors and pharmacists, with each trying to “protect and preserve” task domains.
Evaluating this issue is no easy task. After all, drugs and medicines cannot be regarded as a common commodity, where the customer can be given options where he or she can make an educated and reasonable choice.
If there was separation, what happens to rural patients when there’s a scarcity of pharmacies?
The Star Says.