FDA warns against doctors selling medicines

Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 26 2018 02:12 PM | Updated as of Feb 26 2018 06:31 PM

MANILA - The Food and Drug Administration on Monday reiterated its warning against doctors selling medicines to patients, when they should only be prescribing these.

"A doctor should only prescribe a product. The job of the pharmacist is to dispense the product prescribed by the doctor," FDA Director General Nela Charade Puno said.

Republic Act 10918 or the Philippine Pharmacy Act states that "dispensing was defined as the sum of processes performed by a pharmacist from reading, validating, and interpreting prescriptions; preparing; packaging; labeling; record keeping; dose calculations; and counseling or giving information, in relation to the sale or transfer of pharmaceutical products, with or without a prescription or medication order. Dispensing is an exclusive activity of a pharmacist, to be conducted only within a licensed establishment."

According to Puno, some doctors sell products without proper authorization by the FDA and without a pharmacist.

"Kapag wala po kayong certificate of product registration, hindi ho kayo rehistrado, ibig sabihin ho hindi po dapat kayo nagbebenta. Kung ano man po ang dahilang ibinibigay, tayo po, sumunod na lang tayo. Magkaroon ng rehistro bago ho magbenta. Kailangan i-check ng FDA kung safe po ang produkto eh," Puno said.

"Ang trabaho ng pharmacist, pag naka-receive po kami ng prescription sa isang kliyente o pasyente, ini-explain po namin yon. Kunyari, 'bawal ho kayong uminom ng wine kung nag-a-antibiotic kayo'. Kailangan, maayos na ini-explain sa pasyente. Hindi basta-basta bibili lang po," she added.

Some dermatology clinics sell compounded medicines that are specifically prepared based on an individual prescription. 

For example, bleaching creams, lotions and sunblocks are sometimes active concoctions of the dermatologist.

"Sa lahat ng ganyan, formulation, doktor or same background, alam po nila na dapat nirerehistro yan. Hindi po tayo dapat nagbebenta sa maraming tao ng produktong hindi ho na-check ng Food and Drug Administration," Puno said.

However, the FDA said several doctors are questioning the need for pharmacists when doctors are knowledgeable on the products they prescribe to their patients.

"It's not about the knowledge. It's about ethics in our practice. Doctors should prescribe. Ang pharmacist po, we dispense, we cannot prescribe," Puno said.

Even selling of US FDA approved products should be prohibited unless a license to operate and a product certification are secured from FDA.

"Hindi porke't US FDA approved yan, pagdating mo sa Pilipinas, Philippine FDA ka. Ganon din pag tayo, Philippine FDA approved ang produkto, hindi rin po ibig sabihin na pwede tayong magbenta sa US. Ganon ho ang sitwasyon, hindi porke't meron sa ibang bansa, pwede na rin ho dito sa Pilipinas," Puno said. 

Puno said she has yet to decide on the recommendation of the Regulatory Enforcement Unit cancelling the license of Belo Medical Clinic's pharmacy in Alabang, Muntinlupa.

"Nasa mesa ko na ho, tayo naman po ay hindi basta basta nagka-cancel ng license to operate pero kung nandyan na po ang mga ebidensiya, maaari pong mangyari ang cancellation ng license to operate," Puno said.

"Hindi po namin sini-single out ang sinuman, nag-uumpisa ang aming operasyon, nagkataon na nauna sila, tuloy-tuloy po itong aming programa sa BFAD, na masugpo lahat ng hindi sumusunod sa batas."

"Challenge po ito. Pero kung walang pag-uumpisahan na baguhin itong nakaugalian na, hindi magbabago ang Pilipinas. Lalo kung magkakaroon ng produktong hindi dapat ginagamit ng tao dahil hindi natingnan ng pharmacist ang prescription."