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11 Dec 2023, Edition - 3072, Monday

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Pharmacist: Beyond dispensing medicines

Covai Post Network


How many of us have used the same prescription for years to get the same medicine ? Most of us do that. Barring a few pharmacists, most do not insist on a fresh prescription when the dosage in the earlier prescription finishes.

It is common in India for the pharmacist to don the role of a doctor, either to refill old prescriptions or prescribe drugs for common ailments. Many find it convenient to go directly to a pharmacy, in order to save waiting time and consultation fee, to buy a medicine that the pharmacist prescribes.

With the nation observing the Pharmacy Week, Chairman of KG Hospital, Dr. G. Baktavatsalam has exhorted pharmacists to ensure that they do not refill prescriptions unless the physicians concerned authorize them to do so.

He said that prescription is an order for medication that is date and dose-specific and hence should not be refilled unless the doctor has authorized. And this was imperative as it was governed by the Medical, Nursing and Pharmaceutical guidelines.

Akin to the West the pharmacist should provide the patient with oral and written instructions on the dosage and should also enlighten them on the side effects, complications and the possible drug reactions.

They should quiz the patient on the drugs that he/she is taking so as to rule out any drug related complications thereby ensuring patient safety even if the physician could have omitted by oversight.

“A pharmacist is the closest friend of a doctor as he understands the handwriting of the Indian doctors”, he quips. Nevertheless, he has to adhere to the format where he is supposed to record all the details of the patient, specifically in India which is a land of common and repetitive names.

“A. Ramasamy’s drugs could be wrongly given away to R. Ramasamy. A single letter could lead to a disaster”, the Chairman noted. While it takes five to ten minutes to dispense medicines in India, a pharmacist in the U.S. spends at least half an hour.

Every pharmacist is accountable for the psychotropic drugs like calmpose, morphine and others that are prone to substance abuse. With the Government of India insisting that the drugs should be dispensed in generic names and not the branded, in order to make medicines affordable to the underprivileged, drug disbursement is turning affordable and accessible. “Earlier, a Vitamin B tablet that cost 50 paise was being sold for Rs. 5 a piece under brand names”, he explained.

Lauding the efforts of the State Government, he said that Tamil Nadu has been a role model for almost a decade in the effective supply of drugs in Government hospitals and dispensaries. Amma Pharmacy has reached every common household, he added.

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