THE penalty for pharmacists found dispensing controlled drugs (mainly antibiotics) without a prescription can lead to them having their licences revoked.
Dr Varma Deyalsingh, chairman of the joint select committee to look at regulating the operations of pharmacies, said there were allegations about errant pharmacists breaking the rules and asked how it was being dealt with.
President of the Pharmacy Board, Andrew Rahaman, said the council could investigate only if they received the information. He said the only person to make a complaint was the recipient of the drugs who will not do so because they were saving a doctor's fee.
"We are the regulatory body in relation to the practice of pharmacy. There is a partner in the Health Ministry called the Drug Inspectorate that monitors the antibiotics. That does not mean that we will not get involved in errant practices. We have disciplinary powers to discipline pharmacists. However for us to start an inquiry, we will require a complaint and the person we will usually get that information from is the recipient of the drug.
"So, we are in a kind of catch-22 situation where the persons who we have to get the information from are not willing to give the information because if they give it, the next time they need antibiotics, they will have to go to the doctor and pay $400 to get a prescription."
Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said if a pharmacist was found culpable of such action, they can be removed from the C-DAP programme. However, he said the Pharmacy Board had jurisdiction over the pharmacies and the matter will be reported to them as the ministry cannot take direct action against the pharmacy.
Rahaman said if a pharmacist was found guilty of this act, he or she can have their licence revoked.
Parasram said the Drug Inspectorate inspected pharmacies two-three times a week and tried to pick up irregularities.There was also a system through the C-DAP programme where C-DAP monitors visited the pharmacies much more frequently.