But health director says issue requires more discussion before any action The health director came under renewed pressure yesterday to consider barring doctors from dispensing medicine after an announcement that two people involved in a drugs mix-up at a Wong Tai Sin clinic had died. Former medical legislator Lo Wing-lok said it might be time to review the practice of doctors both prescribing and dispensing drugs. 'There is a need to review what is going on in some of the doctors' clinics and to work out what will be the best solution to avoid similar incidents,' said Dr Lo, chairman of the pressure group People's Health Actions. But Director of Health Lam Ping-yan said doctors should continue to dispense medicine. 'Whether there should be a change to the current system actually requires more detailed discussions, particularly the willingness of patients to go from doctors to pharmacies,' said Dr Lam, who said on Sunday there were not enough pharmacies to handle the extra workload. 'This is not a simple question that I can answer at this point in time, but then this occasion is a good lesson to learn and we should see how we can improve our dispensing practice.' Dr Lam was speaking after his announcement that an 83-year-old man and an 86-year-old woman mistakenly given diabetes medicine by solo medical practitioner Ronald Li Sai-lai to treat stomach ailments had died. The medicine, labelled as simethicone, was subsequently found to be the diabetes drug gliclazide. The Health Department has been frantically tracking down 151 patients prescribed the drug by Dr Li. The alert was put out on Friday after the Hospital Authority noticed three patients with dangerously low blood sugar levels. Dr Lo said the government should look at the long-standing dispensing practice to see whether it was still the best arrangement. But he cautioned that changes could not happen overnight or patients' welfare could be affected. Medical legislator Kwok Ka-ki, convener of the Action Group on Medical Policy, said changing the practice might not necessarily stop drug mix-ups. He pointed to the experience at public and private hospitals in which dispensing of medicines is done at each hospital's dispensary. 'The yearly reports show there are so many incidents happening in Hospital Authority hospitals and private hospitals. The risk will transfer from the clinics to dispensaries,' he said. 'It was regrettable to hear the news. The responsibility definitely falls on that particular doctor.' Dr Kwok said his group had estimated that pharmacy dispensing could increase the cost of a prescription by $40 to $50. 'We have 35 to 40 million consultations a year - that is around $1.8 billion. This cost will be shouldered by the patient alone,' he said.