The purchase of drugs is completely different from purchasing goods at a supermarket
The pharmacist is medically responsible to the patient and legally responsible to the Government
The subject of studying, preparing, formulating, dispensing and storing medicine is often referred to as Pharmacy.
The Pharmacy is also the place where drugs are stored under proper storage conditions and put up for sale, according to the rules and regulations imposed by the Government under the drug ordinance.
Earlier, doctors used to prescribe mixtures, powders and gargles to be prepared by the Pharmacist. The role of the Pharmacist was important back in the day, when Pharmacists took great care in dispensing drugs to the ill.
But at present a majority of the medicines are prepared and ready to use, and are manufactured under the precision and care of large scale drug manufacturers.
Many drugs that are now being imported as one generic drug, under various trade or brand names, which is more than necessary.
Attractive display of drugs
It is quite apparent that in some pharmacies, owners or proprietors embrace luxury and attraction when storing drugs.
Drugs are displayed attractively in some medical practices similar to the products displayed in supermarkets, in an attempt to lure consumers.
Pharmacists however are required to store and dispense drugs according to the rules and regulations in the Cosmetic Devices and Drugs Act.
Drugs are to be stored only under its appropriate storage conditions.
For instance insulin preparations are to be stored between the temperatures of 2° C to 8° C to avoid freezing, while Amoxicillin capsules are to be stored in amber coloured glass bottles or plastic containers, preventing exposure to sunlight and moisture.
What we observe in most pharmacies, is however a different situation. The attractive display and storage of drugs results in enriching a commercial background for numerous brand names to overpopulate the market.
This incessant import of one generic drug under different brand names is in fact due to the great demand shown by the public as a result of doctors prescribing these brand names. Little do the consumers realise that there’s a silent danger in this practice.
Dispensing dangerous drugs
While pharmacists have adopted similar measures as salesmen to persuade customers to purchase drugs, it is imperative that the consumer knows that the purchase of drugs is completely different from purchasing goods at a supermarket.
When a patient is prescribed a certain drug by a doctor, there is absolutely no need for the patient to be attracted to the drug.
There is no need for the drugs to be advertised or for the pharmacist to persuade patients to buy drugs at all. It is simply an act of the pharmacist dispensing the drugs in the prescription.
Drugs must be dispensed according to the following schedule
Malpractices among pharmacists
Pharmacists are not businessmen or salesmen. He or she is an authorised person to dispense drugs according to the Act.
As such, this is a profession of great responsibility. A pharmacist must enter into record all details of each drug he dispenses. This record should be made available to the food and drug inspectors at any given time.
There are two types of Pharmacies in Sri Lanka. In the first, the pharmacist is the proprietor of the pharmacy. In others, the proprietor of the Pharmacy is not a registered pharmacist and therefore has to seek the services of a qualified pharmacist, who is registered with the Sri Lanka Medical Council.
However, it is with the latter that most problems have been reported from.
There have been reports of some proprietors forcing pharmacists to dispense drugs, against the schedule, with the hope of reaping economic benefits. This is clearly illegal.
The pharmacist is the person who will be indicted or prosecuted in the event a patient is harmed by the issue of an incorrect drug.
Therefore proprietors have no right to dictate terms to the pharmacist. The pharmacist is medically responsible to the patient and legally responsible to the Government.
Some pharmacy owners are absolutely business minded. They are eager only to develop their pharmacy in terms of profit, even if it caused harm to patients.
If a pharmacist refuses to dispense any drug to a patient, it is usually for the patient’s own good. Some proprietors, who want to build a network of returning customers, tend to issue schedule 2B drugs on oral request, with a view to reinforce the commercial stability of the pharmacy.
Pharmacists should maintain their professional conduct at all times even if he is forced by the proprietors in some establishments.