Dispensing medicines in the absence of Pharmacist: HC stays order

The court said the stay will not affect doctors from dispensing medicines directly.

Pharmacist drugs Pharmacy, medicine
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The high court has issued a stay on the orders issued by the state government allowing dispensation of medicines under the supervision of doctors in the absence of pharmacists. Justice P B Suresh Kumar issued a stay after considering during admission hearing a petition filed by All Kerala Pharmacists Union. In the order, the court said the stay will not affect doctors from dispensing medicines directly.

It was stated in the government’s orders that in the absence of a pharmacist at a hospital pharmacy or when then pharmacist leaves the pharmacy, the medical officer may arrange dispensing of drugs under his or her direct supervision. The orders were issued following an HC judgment of August 2017 in which the communications issued by director of health services allowing distribution of medicines through unqualified pharmacists were challenged.

It was contended by the petitioner that only a registered pharmacist shall dispense any medicine as per Section 42 of Pharmacy Act, 1948. In 2013, director of health services had issued a circular pointing out that unqualified persons performing duties of pharmacists in government hospitals is in violation of law. When Pharmacy Practice Regulations, 2015 came into being, the government issued a circular for its strict implementation and to prevent dispensing of medicines by unqualified persons.

However, in 2016, the director of health services issued two orders for distributing medicines for non-communicable diseases (NCD) to sub-centre clinics and allowing junior public health nurses to dispense NCD medicines. The court held that the orders were unsustainable under law and ordered the government to ensure that medicines were dispensed through qualified pharmacists.