Drug dispensing laws not in touch with reality - PTASL

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The Pharmaceutical Traders Association of Sri Lanka (PTASL) on Wednesday called on the government to amend certain provisions of the National Medicines Regulatory Authority Act (NMRAA) pertaining to their industry.

Addressing a press conference at the Sri Lanka Press Institute in Colombo, PTASL President Kapila de Zoysa said that the Act had made it compulsory for the pharmacies to have a qualified pharmacist fluent in all three languages to dispense medicine.

He said the NMRAA had made it compulsory to dispense the medicines by pharmacist or a registered apprentice pharmacist only under the direct supervision of the pharmacist.

The situation had badly affected the pharmacy industry around the country due to the shortage of qualified pharmacists, Zoysa stressed.

There was a critical shortage of qualified pharmacists in Sri Lanka, he said, adding that out of 3,020 pharmacies around the country, nearly 1,000 had neither pharmacists nor apprentices.

Although there were around 7,000 qualified pharmacists in the country, majority of them were not practising. They sometimes rent their licence or they just get it as an added qualification, he added.

"Though some pharmacy owners have 20 or 30 years of experience with a good record in the industry, they faced a severe problem since the NMRAA had limited the authority to dispense medicinal drugs only to those with formal pharmacist qualifications," he stressed.

In addition, the Act had also made it compulsory to dispense the medicine in the language requested by the customer, he said, adding that a majority of pharmacists only had a knowledge of English and Sinhala languages and pharmacists in the North had the knowledge of English and Tamil.

There were very few pharmacists who knew all three languages, Zoysa said.

Meanwhile Zoysa also asked the relevant authorities to come up with e-prescribing system to prevent medicine doses being missed. 

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