Letters to the Editor

Ensure safe, accurate and legal dispensing of medications

Monday, February 04, 2019

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Dear Editor,

The Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica wishes to remind our patients and the general public of the important role of pharmacists in helping to ensure the safe, accurate and legal dispensing of medications, and the provision of pharmacy services to you.

The Pharmacy Act of Jamaica governs who should dispense, store, and offer for sale medications, and where these should be stored. These medications must be stored for sale in a duly registered pharmacy under the supervision of a registered pharmacist, as specified in the Pharmacy Act.

Our theme, 'Access to Pharmacists is Access to Health', aptly describes the vital role we play in ensuring that every Jamaican or individual receives optimum health care every time.

Pharmacists are the only health professionals who are licensed under the Pharmacy Act to be in charge of medications for distribution and retail sale at the request of a licensed prescriber.

The Act separates the roles of the medical doctor and the pharmacist.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica therefore views with great concern the increasing reports from members of prescriptions being filled and offered for sale by individuals not authorised to do so. This puts the patients at serious risk from errors in dispensing, the risk of counterfeit or otherwise unfit medications being dispensed, and many other costly, disastrous consequences. Please protect yourself by only accepting prescriptions from licensed prescribers and having these prescriptions filled only by licensed pharmacists at licensed pharmacies.

The Pharmacy Act requires that individuals so authorised must display their current licence from the Pharmacy Council of Jamaica. The Pharmacy Act also requires that any shop licensed as a pharmacy and legally authorised to store or offer for sale any medication from List 2, 3, or 4 must have the current licence visibly displayed for the public.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica is therefore asking all members of the public to be vigilant in protecting your health and the health of your loved ones: Before you purchase medications from a prescription ask to see the relevant licences. Further, we want to encourage you not to purchase drugs that are not properly labelled and packaged.

Here are some safety tips:

• Purchase medication from a licensed pharmacy with a licensed pharmacist on duty.

• Don't accept packages of medications without proper labels.

• Ask to speak with your pharmacists if you have any questions about your medications.

• If you are unsure about the legality of the establishment, ask to see the current licence of the pharmacist and pharmacy.

• Medical centres where medications are offered for sale must comply with the Pharmacy Act and have a licensed pharmacist and licensed pharmacy. Ask to see these if you are in doubt.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica will be happy to answer any questions or provide clarification on any of the issues here raised.

Dr Ernestine Watson


Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica


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