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No Brands on Prescription, Ministry may Tell Doctors

Adel Arafah
KT Exclusive / 1 February 2009

ABU DHABI - Doctors may be compelled to prescribe drugs by their scientific names, rather than the brand names, giving patients more choice under a move being studied by the Ministry of Health (MoH).

Minister of Health Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Quttami told Khaleej Times that the ministry is keen on addressing the concerns of medical organisations that commercial influence weighed into drug prescriptions.

“The Ministry of Health is studying the possibility of cooperation with health insurance companies, regarding granting a larger area of freedom to doctors and pharmacists to choose the appropriate medicine by allowing doctors to write the scientific name of the drug instead of the trading name,” Al Quttami said.

“But the matter needs further consultation with the companies for working together for the public interest.”

A reliable source in the ministry said, “A joint meeting will be held soon between the Abu Dhabi Health Authority and the accredited health insurance companies to discuss the issue of scientific names in writing prescriptions.”

The source added that the move was the result of complaints by a number of global pharmaceutical firms that prescriptions were issued by brand name.

Issuing prescriptions by their scientific name would not allow pharmacists to issue alternative medicine or to focus on medicines by certain companies, according to the source.

However, Mohammed Ibrahim, a representative of one of the health insurance companies, said such an agreement might force an increase in the insurance fee. “The issue is in need of further research and study and there is no doubt that what is agreed upon between the government departments and the health insurance companies will be applied,” Ibrahim maintained.

 “But such agreement will be very costly to the companies, which will force them to increase the annual fee of the health insurance cards,” he pointed out.

Physician Rasmi Qasim Abdullah said, “The federal and local medical bodies should oblige the health insurance companies to agree to bear the costs of writing the scientific names of drug as the most important factor is the health of patients.”

He said that there were a lot of medicines that are not covered by health insurance because of the high price but the cheap kind of drugs are covered by the insurance, which need strict intervention from the authorities.

adel@khaleejtimes.com

 
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