Drugs delay feared under new proposal

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 January, 2010, 12:00am

Patients at private clinics might suffer needless waits for urgent medicine under a proposed change to how drugs are ordered from pharmacies, a doctor's union says.

Currently, in the event of an emergency, a doctor can call a pharmacy in the morning and the drugs will be delivered in the afternoon. Doctors must confirm the delivery and countersign a form when they receive the drugs.

A committee studying the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance put forward 75 suggestions last month. One change would require doctors place orders for drugs in writing, which is then forwarded to the pharmacy, perhaps via fax. The paperwork, the panel says, would make it easier to trace drugs during a recall and curb the sale of unregistered drugs.

But Henry Yeung Chiu-fat, president of the Doctors Union, said making written orders for drugs involved a lot of paper work and feared delivery could be delayed as a result.

'At present, if a patient is in an urgent need for certain medicines ... we can place an order over the phone in the morning and the drug will be ready in the afternoon. But I'm worried that this will not be possible' under the suggested change, he said.

The official proposals are expected to go to the legislature by 2011.