DISPENSING MEDICINE: Don't tamper with dispensing system

By : DR STEVEN CHOW, President Federation of Private Medical Practitioners' Associations Malaysia

THERE has been a recent increase in lobbying efforts to monopolise the dispensing of medication to patients, which is of concern to the public and medical community as it is essentially tampering with the patient's right to choose where or from whom they can get their medication.

Even as the public voice their concern against this proposal, its proponents seem bent on making their vision a reality. Will they be accountable when cost goes up and the quality of healthcare declines?

Our present system is cost-effective and allows the patients to have a choice to get their medication from the pharmacist or the doctor. From the feedback given by our patients, the preference is for a one-stop system, which is more convenient.

It is inaccurate to imply that the existing system in Malaysia is defective and needs to be replaced. This system has worked well to the convenience of many generations of Malaysian patients and a system practised in Britain is not necessarily more suitable here.

In the normal course of a doctor-patient encounter, the responsibility of the doctor does not just end with making a diagnosis and prescribing appropriate medication, but includes ensuring the patient is informed and monitoring the patient if there are any side-effects.
When you consider the weather conditions, traffic problems, accessibility of pharmacies and other logistic issues that will crop up as a result of this move, the system suggested by the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society does not make much sense.

People who are already weakened by the burden of their illness should not have to face the additional stress of having to hunt for their medication in the hot, traffic-congested conditions prevailing in most towns in Malaysia.

Can you expect a mother whose children are feverish and ill to lug them all the way across busy streets to get their medication when they could easily have done so at the clinic?

We believe the way forward is to encourage professional partnerships between pharmacists and their neighbouring private clinics so as to provide patients with more choices rather than changing the system to one that will be detrimental to the rights of patients and increase the cost of medical care significantly.

We do encourage members of the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society to continue to improve their services to the public. Their prime objective should be to complement the existing system so as to allow patients to have more choice.

PHARMACISTS: A one-stop system is preferred

I AM all for retaining the present one-stop system of prescribing and dispensing medicine, as described by Dr Steven Chow of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners' Associations Malaysia ("Don't tamper with dispensing system" -- NST, July 7).

I am a member of the public with no links whatsoever to either private medical practitioners or pharmacists.From personal experience and from listening to friends and other members of the public, I get the feeling that the overwhelming preference is for a one-stop system, as is currently practised in Malaysia by private medical clinics. This system is both convenient and cost-effective.

The welfare and convenience of the patients (the customers, as it were) should be the paramount consideration in any review of the present dispensing system.
And while we recognise that pharmacists do have an important role to play in our healthcare system, I would rather their role be complementary to a proven system that the public has been comfortable with for decades.

Even at this present time, when prescribing and dispensing roles have not been separated, many pharmacists are doing well.This is because the public has come to recognise their very specialised role in the private healthcare system and use of their services alongside those of private medical practitioners

so what your view?

salam ukhwah


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