So, what happen if someone owns a gun but doesn't have bullets?
Here are some questions and answers related to my posting:
What is the hottest topic among health care providers these few days until even LKS and Malaysia Today blog about it?
The dispensing rights between the doctors and pharmacists.
What is dispensing (medicine)?
To give out or to distribute (medicine).
Who has the rights to dispense in Malaysia currently?
1) Doctors. 2) Pharmacists.
What has the pharmacists been demanding for the past 20 years and now?
The exclusive rights to dispense medicine, no one else.
Why is the rights so important?
Pharmaceutical industry is an extremely profitable business. There is a huge market out there. One can become rich (like doctors?) with such rights. This can be equate to automobile companies with APs (exclusive rights to import certain cars).
Who are practicing separate dispensing currently?
1) All the government hospitals and clinics in Malaysia (Actually not entirely true as many of the dispensing role are done by "dispensers" because there are shortage of pharmacists in the country).
2) All the private hospitals in Malaysia.
Who are not practicing separate dispensing?
All private General Practitioner clinics and most of the individual Specialist Clinics.
Why are they not practicing it?
1) There are not enough pharmacists.
2) Smaller clinics could not afford to hire pharmacists to dispense.
Why are pharmacists unhappy about it?
They are losing income or business for not been able to get enough prescriptions for them to dispense. That is why they are resorting to selling all sort of stuffs (like supermarket), such as health supplements, milk powder, self-grooming stuffs and even food stuffs like mineral water.
Why are doctors refuse to give away their rights?
Primary care or General Practice in the private sector is very profitable (one can not denied) and very competitive as well. Many GPs resort to lower their consultation fees in order to get the patient volumes and gain from dispensing medicines. Take for example, many GPs lower the cost to charge per patient (in a package of consultation plus medications) in order to get accepted as "panel" for many companies. This lowers the cost of health care.
What happen if doctors loose the rights?
Many will raise the consultation fees and health care is going to cost more with the separate dispensing of drugs.
While John Chang and Dr. Khoo Kah Lin can go and debate who and why pharmacists should be or not given the exclusive rights, I am more concern if implementation would be successful if ever the pharmacists won the rights.
My few concerns:
1) Will patients ever understand the danger of not consulting the doctors for their problems and to buy medicine from the pharmacies because they are cheaper?
2) Will enough enforcement be there to make sure pharmacists only dispense medicine with only prescription from doctors?
3) Will patients willing to spend more on separate prescription and dispensing (higher cost of health care)?
Meanwhile, few possibilities I could imagine if doctors and pharmacists want to cooperate to share the pie:
1) Doctors to hire pharmacists and pay them accordingly to dispense in the clinics.
2) Doctors and pharmacists to open joint venture and share the profit accordingly.