Pharmacists: Should they prescribe?

There is a current air of haziness as to the role of a pharmacist. Can they prescribe or should they just dispense? From a doctor’s viewpoint, pharmacists are not trained to prescribe, as their training do not encompass making a proper diagnosis of a patient through their history, physical examination and investigation.

Let me illustrate. A hypertensive patient once told me that he could walk up to a pharmacist and request for loose tablets of hypertensive medication with no questions asked. No blood pressure readings were even taken. This is an unacceptable and unethical practice.

Pharmacist have an important role to play in healthcare. However, they are not ready to prescribe yet. Their history taking and physical examination skills need some brushing up if they are to take over the role of general practitioners. Even the prescription of simple medications may be tricky if proper procedures are not adhered to.

It is my opinion that the pharmacists should stick with dispensing for now. The regulation of the practices of pharmacists needs improvement as well. Perhaps if a pharmacist would like to prescribe, he/she should undergo 6 years of gruelling training that a medical student has to undergo. Even their examination formats will have to be revamped to accomodate such a change in responsibilities.

The bottomline is that a patient’s healthcare should not be compromised.

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2 thoughts on “Pharmacists: Should they prescribe?

  • October 2, 2007 at 12:24 pm
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    Is a better question: Should they be able to prescribe some medication?
    So you are telling me that a patient with hypertension was dispensed controlled medication without a prescription from a pharmacist. The pharmacist is risking his practice (and much more), simply with no questions asked. How does this make any sense? You are really gullible, if you believe that.
    Nevertheless, How does this support your logic that a pharmacist should not be able to prescribe some controlled drugs? NP can prescribe with a limited scope. Why not pharmacists?
    The idea is to improve patient healthcare. Some of the best experts I know(in drug therapy), are clinical pharamcists. Duh?

    As for 6 years of training?
    Pharamcists undergo 4 post-baccalaureate years studying Pharmacology. You do know what that is, right?
    I think they should have SOME knowledge in prescribing SOME controlled drugs.

  • December 23, 2008 at 3:46 am
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    6 years training to be able to prescribe? Applying the same logic, then doctors cannot DISPENSE unless trained and gruelled for 4 years in pharmacy. But, what happen now is that they dispense with only one semester knowledge of pharmacology.

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