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Friday July 18, 2008

Dispensing role of pharmacists limited

PHARMACISTS are experts on drug therapy and are the primary health professionals who optimise medication use to provide patients with positive health outcome.

A community pharmacist, therefore, would be a clinical pharmacist that is involved with the dispensing (and sometimes compounding) of medications based on the patient’s prescription written by the medical doctor.

The pharmacist will also involve in patient counselling, and to provide other healthcare-related advice for patients coming into the pharmacy with minor ailments.

Pharmacists’ dispensing rights in Malaysia has been debatable for many years. For decades, doctors in Malaysia are given the rights to dispense drugs themselves from their clinics.

Pharmacists are not required to carry out the duties, but instead, the typical ‘assistant’ will advice you on the medication.

There has never been a post for clinical pharmacists in a doctor’s clinic, as this is not cost-effective.

Usually, the function of the medication is given, but the name of the medicine is absent. Patient safety is one big concern.

Like most pharmacy graduates throughout Malaysia, I do feel that the Government is not maximising our roles in the healthcare section.

Throughout the typical four-year pharmacy course, we had gone through a series of highly specialised training in order to qualify as a skilled and highly trained healthcare professional.

We had hospital visits, dispensing labs, compounding workshops, industrial research training and the endless exams. But what is there for us upon graduation?

For most developed countries like Britain, community pharmacists are like aspecially trained set of ‘second eyes’.

With their wealth of specialised clinical knowledge in drugs and various diseases, they play a pivotal role in detecting errors (however minor) on the medical prescriptions made by doctors, prompting the doctors for a change in doses/ frequency of administration.

However, in Malaysia, only the hospital pharmacists are actively involved in clinical scenarios presented by patients.

Community pharmacists in Malaysia do not have a defined clinical role along the healthcare line.

As a newly pharmacy graduate from Britain, I am disappointed with the situation here in Malaysia

Community pharmacies are much like a personal store in Malaysia. Rarely will you witness patients requesting their medication to be made based on the prescriptions given by fellow doctors.

Why is Malaysia’s pre-registration training for pharmacy graduates restricted to only hospital and industrial settings? What about the community pharmacy sector?

What does the future hold for the future of pharmacists in Malaysia? When will the dispensing right be given fully to community pharmacists?

Kulim, Kedah.


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