Vietnam cracks down on prescription drug management
People can only buy antibiotics when showing a prescription from 2020, according to a new regulation from the Ministry of Health.
The plan to tighten management over prescription drugs during 2017-2020 period was approved by the Ministry of Health on September 7 in order to better control antibiotic trading. In Vietnam, 88% of the drugs in urban areas were sold without a prescription. This rate in rural areas is 91%. Antibiotics account for 13.4% of the revenue in urban areas and 18.7% in rural areas.
Luong Ngoc Khue, director of the Administration of Medical Examination and Treatment, said many people were abusing antibiotics, vitamins and other drugs. "Too many drugs are listed for one prescription and this is one of the reasons for antibiotic resistance," he said.
The prescriptions for inpatients are being managed tightly. Technology has been used to limit mistakes in prescribing drugs for outpatients. However, there are still many mistakes found in patients' information and drug usage.
In Vietnam, the situation is getting worse as more and more viruses are able to resist antibiotics. One of the reasons is because of drug abuse in farming. Farmers use too many antibiotics on their animals and crops. Moreover, pharmacies also want higher revenues and Vietnamese people often buy medicines without going to doctors.
Vietnam has many regulations about prescription drugs but in reality, not many people and pharmacies follow the rules. Thin personnel and a huge amount of drugs mean lax management. The punishments are also too light to be a deterrent. Sellers will be fined VND200,000 (USD8.30) to VND500,000 when selling drugs without a prescription and a fine of VND1m to VND2m for those who prescribe drugs inaccurately.
According to the plan to tighten management over prescription drugs during 2017-2020 period, 100% of antibiotics must have prescriptions from doctors, 100% of the prescriptions at public hospitals and 80% at private hospitals must include all requirements of the Ministry of Health. It is hoped that the plan will help raise public awareness and reduce the number of drugs sold without prescription.
Khue emphasised that the prescriptions for inpatients are closely monitored and managed. For outpatients, Khue said customers must stay smart and understand that too much use of antibiotics is harmful.
"If we buy drugs rampantly from the pharmacies, we may be antibiotic-resistant in the future and danger ourselves," he said.
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