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Pharmacists demand separation of medicine, pharmacy in Taipei rally
Central News Agency
2014-06-08 11:16 PM
Taipei, June 8 (CNA) More than 5,000 pharmacists and over 1,000 students studying pharmacy held a protest parade on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Sunday, calling for the separation of drug dispensing from medical practice. The protesters, mostly members of the Taiwan Pharmacist Association (TPA), braved rains as they demonstrated their stance with placards that read "No separation of medicine and pharmacy, no safety of drug usage." The protest drew several lawmakers of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party to show their support. The TPA contended that in advanced countries, clinics are banned from employing pharmacists because prescriptions can only be dispensed by qualified pharmacists at licensed drug stores. In Taiwan, however, clinics are allowed to hire drug dispensers, as are pharmacies, the association said, complaining such a "double-track" system turned pharmacists into workers for physicians. The association is also strongly opposed to a proposal put forth by some lawmakers and politically influential physicians to revise the Pharmacists Act to allow dispensers to work at more than one place. If such an amendment were adopted, pharmacists would become "sweat shop workers" under physicians who do not just run their own clinics but also serve at hospitals, because such physicians would have the right to order their pharmacists to work at any place they want them to, the TPA said. Tan Yen-kai, a pharmacist, said physicians should not act both as practitioners and as rule makers, just as an athlete should not be a player and a referee at the same time. Tan suggested that health authorities make it a rule for physicians to "release" prescriptions to pharmacists and share patients' prescription information with pharmacists. By so doing, he added, repeat prescriptions can be avoided and safety in drug usage can be better ensured for patients. (By Lung Pei-ning and Elizabeth Hsu) NEIDTEM/sc
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