National Pharmacy News

Title: Why medications given on monthly basis
Date: 21-Jul-2011
Category: the star online

WITH reference to the letter “Forced to make extra trips for medicine” (The Star, July 16), the Pharmaceutical Services Division, of the Health Ministry understands the problems mentioned.

We regret the inconvenience experienced by the patient but do allow us to elaborate on this issue.

Patients are supplied medications on a monthly basis for several reasons.

Firstly, it is to enable the pharmacist to monitor these patients in terms of compliance and/or occurrence of adverse reactions.

Secondly it is to ensure the quality of medicines used as not all patients keep their medicines in accordance with proper storage conditions and this will compromise the efficacy of these medications and safety of the patient.

Lastly, periodic supply of medications also helps to avoid wastage as patients do not always inform the pharmacy if they still have stock at home when they get their new prescriptions filled.

In addition to this, all medicines supplied from public health facilities are fully subsidised by the Government.

In order not to tie up Government funding with excessive stocks and also to avoid the issue of wastage, the norm for stock holding in Government hospitals and clinics is two months.

Hence, the policy to supply medicines on a monthly basis is not because the hospitals have insufficient stocks but it is an effort to practise good store management, maintaining the delicate balance between maximum stock (to avoid overstocking) and minimum stock (to avoid under-stocking) which is vital in these prudent times.

Facilities that frequently experience the issue of under-stocking will be looked into and advised to take effective corrective action to rectify the matter.

However, the Pharmaceutical Services Division has introduced several mechanisms to ease the medication collection process for patients on long-term therapy.

Patients can request to collect their repeat medications from facilities which are nearer their homes using the Sistem Pendispensan Ubat-Ubatan Bersepadu (SPUB) services offered at all government hospital and health clinic pharmacies.

Alternatively, patients can also opt to have their repeat medications posted to their homes on a regular basis.

This service is already being offered at major hospitals in all states and will be expanded to include other healthcare facilities based on the coverage offered by the postal service.

With this, we hope to overcome the woes of patients and care-givers who find it inconvenient to come to the Government hospitals and health clinics to collect their medications.

We would like to suggest that the patient concerned discuss with the respective pharmacist on the various medication collection options available through which he/she can collect his/her repeat medications.

Senior Director of Pharmaceutical Services,
Health Ministry.

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