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Penalties for pharmacies selling medicine without prescription
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 15 - 02 - 2017

The Health Ministry will intensify inspection of pharmacies, private and public hospitals, primary healthcare centers and polyclinics to prevent malpractices and punish violators, said its spokesman Mishaal Al-Rubaiaan.
"We'll punish pharmacies that sell antibiotics without a doctor's prescription. We have received several complaints in this respect," he told Al-Madina Arabic daily.
Many pharmacies in the Kingdom sell medicine without a prescription, which is illegal.
Meanwhile, experts have cited many reasons for patients approaching pharmacies directly to receive medicine without visiting a doctor or hospital.
These include lack of insurance, high fees charged by private hospitals, overcrowding and long procedures at government hospitals.
"Many patients are unaware of the importance of consulting a doctor before purchasing medicine from a pharmacy. It's a dangerous practice because there are many unqualified and inexperienced pharmacists," an expert told the daily.
Subhi Al-Haddad, a clinical pharmacist, said many patients go straight to pharmacists to get medicine to save money, especially when they do not have medical insurance to cover their healthcare expenses.
"Some others follow this practice to save time as they do not have the patience or time to wait for long procedures and wait in long queues at hospitals," he told Al-Madina.
Al-Haddad said that most pharmacists in the Kingdom are qualified and have received the certification of Saudi authorities to practice the profession.
A pharmacist's duty is to explain how to take and preserve medicine properly and its dosage. It's not their duty to prescribe medicine. "There are certain medicine that should not be given without the prescription of a licensed doctor, like antibiotics, cortisone compounds, and anti-pregnancy pills," he explained.
Dr. Saleh Abdul Rahman Al-Madani, a medical and food consultant, cited economic reasons for people to approach pharmacies directly to get medication.
"Most Saudis, especially those who work in the public sector, do not have medical insurance," he pointed out.
Al-Madani said most pharmacies do not follow the ministry's rules and regulations. "It's an international law that medicine should not be sold without a valid prescription," he added.
Considering patient safety and the severity of current malpractice, it is time for regulatory authorities to take concrete measures to implement the drug sale regulations outlined in the 1978 Saudi drug law, one expert said.

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