Since the day I entered medical school, a contentious issue is that the doctor should be confined to seeing the patient, making the diagnosis and writing out the prescription, then the patient moves on to get his medications from the pharmacist. Till this day, this debate is still ongoing.
There are several issues involved here:
1) Will patient accept these arrangements, having been so used to getting all his treatment at the one-stop centre the doctor’s clinic?
2) Cost will definitely go up;
3) Inconvenience to the patient;
4) While the number of pharmacists has increased and the shortage of pharmacists is not as acute as 5 years ago, we have the problem of distribution of pharmacists since most of the pharmacists are clustered around the major town. Most pharmacies do not operate 24 hours. How is the patient going to get his medications at night?
In most medical practice, the dispenser is not a trained pharmacist. They are trained just to read the prescription and dispense the medications often with no idea about the functions and the side effects of the drug been dispensed. This may not be the most ideal condition to dispense medications. However, in the Malaysia context, it has served us well with minimum cost and hassle.
Some Malaysian pharmacists unfortunately do not function professionally. They would sell medications without a proper prescription. Most pharmacists would not even bother to tell the patient of the side effects of the drug. In fact, the patient hardly has any opportunity to interact with the pharmacists in a pharmaceutical outlet. What is worse is that some pharmacists also branch out into other healthcare activities that should be the domain of the doctors.
Hence, the present arrangement where the patient gets to see his doctor and his medications in a one-stop centre setting seems to be acceptable.