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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Health ministry needs to enforce prescription time frame validity to prevent medicine abuse & misuse: Dr Jagashetty

Health ministry should now look at enforcing time frame validity in doctor’s prescription to ensure that there is no medicine abuse and misuse. This needs to be applied for all drugs coming under Schedule H and those out of its ambit. Such a move could bring in both patients and medical practitioners under scanner on the drug purchase and prescribing practices respectively, said Dr BR Jagashetty, former national advisor (drugs control) to ministry of health & family welfare and former Karnataka drugs controller.

For this, the health ministry will now need to add a sub-clause in the Rule 65 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, he added.

“The time frame for prescription validity should be 48 hours. This is because patients will purchase usually drugs immediately for any conditions covering from fever, cough, cold to hypertension, diabetes, cardiac among others. The adverse drug reactions will also manifest within 24 to 36 hours giving the patient time to get back and revise his prescription and return the purchased drugs,” Dr. Jagashetty pointed out.

The prescription will also need to have the date to be signed by the medical practitioner. This is one way to stall the scanning of prescriptions and prevent online pharmacy sales. Another aspect is that consumption of drugs will be controlled and there will not be any chance for patients to be overdosed. Not only that medical practitioners should also be cautious while prescribing drugs. It would control the practice of prescribing more than a few drugs for a simple health complaint covering not just anti-inflammatory, antibiotics, anti-pyretic medicines but a range of multi vitamin and nutraceutical supplements which are more often beyond the affordability ambit of the patients. With the prescription audit and time frame validity, there will be a system in place and India needs such time frame validity in doctor’s prescription, said Dr Jagashetty.

Earlier mandating on the need for prescription audit which the health ministry is seriously considering, Dr Jagashetty had said that it would avoid unnecessary medicine usage and stall multi-drug resistance besides controlling medical expenditure. The Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) has now helped to stop brand promotion by pharma companies to the medical community, he said.

In fact the Medical Council of India's recently issued guidelines on standard prescription format is seen to be the first step to prevent  medicine abuse and misuse, he said.

Both prescription audit and its time frame validity would enable tough control across hospitals, nursing homes and clinics. It would create an environment of transparency, effectiveness and accountability among the medical professionals in the country. The health ministry now needs to look at enforcing prescription time frame validity to prevent medicine abuse and misuse in the wake of the online sales coming under the scanner, said Dr Jagashetty.


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