Health minister: Mandatory prescriptions upon request to be included in Poisons Act

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad mingles with people after the Health Ministry Town Hall Session with pharmacists in Putrajaya August 8, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad mingles with people after the Health Ministry Town Hall Session with pharmacists in Putrajaya August 8, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 8 — The Health Ministry is looking to include mandatory prescriptions upon request as a provision under the Poisons Act 1952.

Its minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said he is hoping that the provision will be added as one of the amendments made to the Act.

“We are working towards that direction, but it will not be ready immediately.

“As and when it is ready, we will notify the respective industries and the public,” he told reporters during a press conference today after a town hall session attended by over 400 pharmacists here.

However, this is against the demands of pharmacists who have been asking to make prescriptions by doctor mandatory and not “upon request”.

Currently, doctors are following the “mandatory upon request” policy, where the onus is on the patients to request for prescriptions.

Pharmacists have in the past rallied against this policy, deeming it unsafe for patients to make the decision on their own.

This was raised again today during the town hall by several pharmacists, who urged the Health Ministry to consider making it mandatory for doctors to provide a complete prescription.

When asked for a time frame of when the ministry is expected to present the amendments, Dzulkefly said it will be presented to Parliament during the third session this year.

It was reported that previously, the Health Ministry under the former administration mooted to remove the requirement that prescriptions be mandatory.

Pharmacists were concerned that patients would be put in a situation where they can be denied prescriptions.

“If patients face a situation where doctors refuse to prescribe medication, they can take their complaints to the Private Medical Practice Control Branch and the case will be investigated under the grievance mechanism provided under the law.

*Editor’s note: An earlier version did not carry the term “upon request”, but has since been corrected after clarification from the Health Ministry. Malay Mail apologises for the confusion.

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