'Conflict of interest' in drugs plan

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 February, 2007, 12:00am

Three major pharmacist groups oppose the Hospital Authority's plan to sell non-subsidised drugs in public hospitals. They claimed that because it also prescribes medication, the authority would be open to conflicts of interest and middle-class patients might suffer as a result.

The Legislative Council's health services panel on January 8 turned down the authority's proposal to seek tenders to set up hospital pharmacies to sell non-subsidised drugs - despite the fact that the same panel last year opposed the authority setting up hospital pharmacies and urged it to consider tendering.

The Practising Pharmacists Association, the Society of Hospital Pharmacists and the Pharmaceutical Society expressed disappointment with the panel's change of attitude. They said the authority could face conflicts of interest if it prescribes and sells non-subsidised drugs at the same time.

'If the authority prescribes more non-subsidised drugs to patients, it can get more income. Poor patients can apply for payment waivers, but middle-class patients cannot. It is unfair to the middle class,' the chairman of the Practising Pharmacists Association, Billy Chung Wing-ming, said.