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Thursday June 20, 2024

Model pharmacies

By Editorial Board
March 01, 2019

To help overcome the shortage of essential drugs – including drugs which have no alternative – being faced in the country, the Ministry of National Health Services has ordered the setting up of model pharmacies in all major cities. The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan has been asked to work out the details and determine how a model pharmacy, offering all drugs required by patients, is to be set up. The basic idea is that, to spare people the task of searching for a particular drug at pharmacies scattered across the town, a single retailer will be selected in each city and drug manufacturers ordered to ensure that pharmacy is supplied with every drug they produce. Associations of manufacturers, pharmacists and other groups are to be brought into the discussion.

The proposal would appear to be a sound one. Shortages of drugs have been experienced from time to time and are being faced once again by people in many cities. However, while it is easy to put a theoretical model down on paper, setting it up on the ground can often prove to be more difficult. The ministry and DRAP therefore need to make a careful assessment of requirements and determine what the best way to meet them is. The reason for periodic drug shortages needs to be examined as do issues related to pricing. The prices of drugs in Pakistan are amongst the highest in the region. Once this exercise has been carried out, and an agreement reached with pharmacists, only then can the plan move ahead. The priority must be to ensure that persons searching for medication do not suffer hardships and regular problems. There are cases in which patients suffering from serious medical conditions have been unable to obtain lifesaving drugs. The model pharmacy idea needs to be explored further, the method of choosing a licensed pharmacy needs to be transparent and the proposal then put into action.

It is also essential that not too much time be lost in carrying out requirements. As authorities have already stated, people are currently suffering due to drug shortages. What is vital is that these medicines be made available as quickly as possible so that patients can get the care they need even while longer-term mechanisms to solve the problem are being worked out.