Friday, April 02, 2010

Pharmacists defend medicine prescription but doctors oppose

From the Times of Malta:
It is inconceivable that doctors should lambast the Health Minister's proposals for pharmacists to prescribe medicine, according to the chamber of pharmacists.

Martin Balzan, president of the Medical Association of Malta, said the MAM was "surprised and disappointed" that the Health Ministry was "considering abandoning the ethical principles in the prescription of medicines".

On Monday, Health Minister Joe Cassar said his ministry was working to expand the role of community pharmacists by giving them the power to prescribe medicine after appropriate training. This would bring Malta in line with practices in other countries such as the UK, where this kind of scheme was implemented in May 2006.

But the MAM reacted negatively, saying "the current Medicines Act prevents medical practitioners from dispensing medicines to protect patients from a potential conflict of interest between the prescriber and the dispenser who profits from the sale of medicines".

The association made further financially-related comments, saying the reform would lead to "unsafe practice and a conflict of interest, which will further raise the price of medicines". It called for the "liberalisation of pharmacy licences" for there to be competition and subsequent decreases in the cost of medicines.

The Chamber of Pharmacists called the comments "long exhausted, feeble, non sequitur arguments," adding it took "bona fide professionals to change a mentality and move with the times". ...more

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