Stricter standards for Ho Chi Minh City pharmacies
  • | Thanh Nien, dtinews | January 07, 2011 04:41 PM

>> Authorities pledge action against drugstore malpractices

Pharmacies in Ho Chi Minh City that fail to meet with Good Pharmacy Practices (GPP) standards will no longer be allowed to sell prescription drugs in 2011.

Deputy Minister of Health, Cao Minh Quang, made the statement at a recent meeting addressing the issue in Ho Chi Minh City on January 6.

The move would still allow pharmacies which do not meet the standard to sell over-the-counter drugs.

A GPP drugstore in Ho Chi Minh City

At the end of 2010 Ho Chi Minh City had about 1,500 GPP drugstores. This figure accounts for nearly 41% of the total 3,677 pharmacies in the entire city, while there are around 492 drug wholesalers.

The number of GPP pharmacies is small, even though the Ministry of Health has previously set the 2010 deadline for drugstores to meet these standards.

Associate Professor Pham Khanh Phong Lan, deputy director of the municipal Department of Health, said that people have a habit of buying medicine without prescriptions, which has in turn fostered a market for counterfeit and substandard products.

Some pharmacy owners have overcharged or not followed proper procedures for product preservation. Also, few of the people who run these shops have any training in pharmacology.

The Ministry of Health has also issued Circular No. 43, which addresses the management of drugstores nationwide. According to the directive, pharmacies who do not comply with GPP standards are only allowed to sell over-the-counter drugs, while authorised drugstores do not have these limitations.

As of January 1, 2011, the Ministry has extended the deadline for compliance to GPP standards by three months. After that time, all violations are subject to punishment.

Quang worries, “People have a habit of going to pharmacies to buy medicine whenever they feel ill, without necessarily knowing what they are getting. Some even take antibiotics like candy. This must be changed to protect people’s health.”

He added that the ministry’s new rules are not intended to have pharmacies make superficial changes. Licensing of GPP drugstores is an important issue, so important to closely monitor them.

Doctor Phong Lan emphasised the significance of ensuring GPP standards, saying that it is important in order to ensure the origins and safety of medicines. Still, as Lan admitted, the number of GPP pharmacies is not sufficient to meet the demand. And at the same time doctors are overworked and in short supply.

The Ministry of Health has issued instructions to speed up the application of GPP standards for drugstores nationwide. All drugstores connected to hospitals or drug companies must be certified GPP by 2011 to remain in operation. Other pharmacies have until 2013.

To become GPP certified, drugstores must meet several criteria, including having a minimum area of at least 10 square metres, as well as proper facilities to preserve drugs in accordance with what is printed on the labels.


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