Dispensing rights : disputed territory

The argument about dispensing rights continue to fuel the debates between doctors and pharmacists. While doctors are keen to hold on to dispensing rights, pharmacists are adamant that this responsibility should be solely licensed to them.

Pharmacology is part of medical curriculums and it traverses though out the entire course. It is acknowledged that most curriculums do not include education on dispensing medications and there is certainly no practical training on it.

Pharmacy training has its strengths in dispensing practices. However, they lack medical training and often are not trained in essential history taking and physical examination. Their knowledge is more in depth when it comes to medicinal properties and concoctions.

It is agreed that if doctors could concentrate on prescribing and pharmacist on dispensing, it would reduce prescription errors and increase patient safety.

Unfortunately, in the real world the disparity in distribution of each profession requires that doctors maintain dispensing rights. One sore note for doctors would be a dent in their profits if dispensing were to be removed from their job description. Pharmaceuticals remain a lucrative business.

If pharmacists are to lend weight to their claim on dispensing rights, they must first ensure that they do not prescribe, as often occurs. A patient can walk up to a pharmacy and buy many medicines, even if a prescription is needed by law. Many pharmacies also offer health checks. Medical advice is then given despite no prior medical training. This must stop.

Doctors have probably more rights to claim dispensing responsibilities than pharmacists on prescription duties.

Let’s face it, medical training is stringent and involves years of training, usually 5-6 years of undergraduate training and much more for a specialist. Pharmacy usually involves 3 years of undergraduate training. Many do not go for further post graduate courses.

Ultimately, this debate has its roots in economics. It is like the fight for oil in the Middle East! It has less to do with patient safety, despite what each might say. There is no end in sight to this argument as yet.