PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry’s pharmaceutical services division has maintained that its enforcement on doctors is nothing out of the usual.
Division senior director Dr Salmah Bahri denied accusations that the ministry was increasing such enforcement.
“We are meeting with associations representing general practitioners to clarify matters very soon,” she said.
Yesterday, a private general practitioner took to Facebook to vent his frustration, alleging that pharmacy division officers raided his office just to find fault with his practice.
The doctor, who runs a clinic in Kuala Lumpur, also uploaded pictures and video clips of the alleged incident.
A senior doctor, who declined to be named, said GPs were questioning why the action seems to be focused on doctors and not on pharmacists as well.
“A lot of pharmacists are also guilty of changing medicines prescribed by doctors,” he claimed.
A senior doctor, who wrote to The Star under the pseudonym “The Patriots”, said that such heavy-handedness by the enforcement unit has been a long-standing problem.
Relating an incident, he said a doctor’s reputation had been tarnished after he was asked to plead guilty to a “minor issue” (An inspection of his clinic by the enforcement unit reportedly found one drug that wasn’t recorded).
When charged, the doctor, who wasn’t represented because he was assured that it was a small matter, pleaded guilty and was fined RM5,000.
The officer who persuaded him to enter the plea then gave the details to the press.
He said the enforcement unit should make an appointment before conducting an inspection, unless it is a raid.
“Stop wasting doctors’ time during peak patient hours,” he said, adding that the unit’s right to call for GPs to be arrested should be aborted.
PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has objected to the action taken against doctors who dispense simple over-the-counter (OTC) medication in their clinics.
Such an action by the Health Ministry’s pharmacy enforcement unit (PEU) was causing inconvenience to patients, said MMA president Dr Ravindran R. Naidu.
“If sundry shops, traditional Chinese medicine shops and convenience stores can sell OTC medication like paracetamol, why can’t clinics?” he asked.
Dr Ravindran said many patients bought drugs from pharmacies without a prescription or being reviewed by doctors.
“It’s far more dangerous when pharmacists dispense controlled drugs without a prescription.”
There should be discussions with the ministry to ensure regulations are clear, he added.
His comments came in the wake of a letter sent to the ministry’s top officials, complaining about “victimisation” by the pharmacy enforcement unit.
It is learned that the letter was sent by an organisation representing doctors (not MMA).
The letter dated Monday detailed the “heavy-handed action” taken in the last six months by the unit in raiding their clinics.
“PEU officers are even calling up our patients and asking all sorts of questions. The patients are anxious and it creates mistrust between them and their doctor,” said a source.
Previously, he said there was no issue with patients who got their medicine from the clinic without being examined.
“Now, it’s a problem,” the source added.
The Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia president Dr Peter Chan spoke out against cases where the PEU made police reports against doctors for “preventing a government officer from carrying out his duties” when they declined to divulge patients’ details.
He said patients’ cards at clinics should not be confiscated nor patients be contacted by the PEU.
The Private Health Care Facilities and Services Act states that patient information can only leave the clinic by way of a court order.
Such details are also protected under the Medical Act and Personal Data Protection Act, he added.
As for the role of doctors and pharmacists in dispensing medication, Dr Chan called for the definition of “patient” to be clarified.
Since 1952, the Poisons Act has allowed patients to buy medicine from clinics, he said.
“Now, after 55 years, we’re told we cannot be in retail as Section 19 limits the sale of medicine to a doctor’s patient.”
Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/08/11/allow-clinics-to-dispense-otc-medicine-mma-patients-should-be-able-to-buy-simple-medication/#E8SXxx6uG8WVdpxu.99