Dispensing Separation - How and When?

What is Dispensing Separation (DS)? Basically it is "a doctor diagnosed the patient and prescribed medicines to the patient for the ailment diagnosed. Patient will then visit the Pharmacist in a Pharmacy to dispense the prescription presented". The act of dispensing is a process of "auditing" the prescription, filling the prescription followed by patient counselling.

Many of us, who had visited many foreign countries, and had the misfortune of having to seek medical treatment, would realise that the above scenario is already in place. There is no surprise nor any complain uttered as we, together with the locals, went through the process of "dispensing separation".

Thus why is it that Malaysia, being one of the last few developing countries left in the World, still had not implemented "DS"? In fact, many of us are not consciously aware that the Government Hospitals are already practising DS ... this practice had existed since the Country's independence ... that it becomes a routine and "norm" ... with no complains.

Reading the many comments in the media over the last few months on DS, I believe the public would be confused, as there are sensible and logical arguments and facts from both sides of the divide.

Today, the focus in healthcare outcome delivery is the PATIENT himself! Thus, patient's interest MUST take precedence in this debate "for or against" DS.

I am of the opinion that all healthcare stakeholders ie the doctors, pharmacists, insurers, industry players, the Government health regulators, consumer/patient groups be gathered together to "deep dive" into the "advantages and disadvantages" of having DS.

Once there is an agreement for the separation of roles for both the doctors and pharmacists, leading to DS implementation, a DS laboratory be set up comprising of relevant stakeholders to study, manage and resolve issues and challenges with agreed timeline for implementation. Indeed there must be a clear driver for the DS Project, structure, resource and finance.

However, if there is no agreement in having DS in the Country, then it should be dropped and  revisited again at a later agreed timeline as the health eco-system may have changed by then.


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