KUALA LUMPUR: Pharmacists have lost the exclusive right to dispense medicine with adjustments made to the proposed Pharmacy Bill.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the Bill has been redrafted and finalised to retain the system of allowing both doctors and pharmacists to dispense medicine.
He said the proposed Bill has been referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers after further consultations were held with stakeholders.
"We are moving ahead with it. We feel that the current system should be allowed to operate while we liberalised it a bit, so that patients have a choice," he told reporters during the Insight 2017 Medical Travel Market Intelligence Conference yesterday.
The Bill will be tabled once the Attorney-General approves it, he said, adding that it was not known when it could be tabled in Parliament.
The proposed Pharmacy Bill is an omnibus Bill to replace four Acts, i.e. Registration of Pharmacists, Poisons Act, Sale of Drugs Act and Medicines (Advertisement and Sale) Act.
The Bill was initially supposed to incorporate the separation of dispensing, with pharmacists to dispense medicine and doctors barred from doing so.
Two years ago, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) rejected the proposed Bill on the ground that the medical fraternity was not consulted on the issue of separation of dispensing rights.
Following that, the ministry put it on hold for further consultations and later redrafted the Bill.
Dr Subramaniam said following consultations with various stakeholders, it was decided that both doctors and pharmacists will have the right to dispense medication.
He said dismantling a system that was functioning properly might bring about other problems.
A patient seeing a private doctor in a rural area where the nearest pharmacy was 30km away might not be able to get his or her medication until the next day, he added.
"We look at convenience for patients," Dr Subramaniam said.