Czech Ministry of Health Explores Pill Counting System for Medication Dispensing

The Ministry of Health in the Czech Republic is considering a new system for dispensing medication by counting pills instead of providing whole packages. The ministry is exploring possibly issuing the exact number of pills from large containers instead of traditional boxed packaging. This change is aimed at improving the availability of medicines and reducing waste. The new system would involve pharmacists counting the pills, printing the package insert, and providing patients with a medication vial containing the specified number of tablets.

While the proposed system could increase the availability of medications, it would require additional work for pharmacies and may lead to longer waiting times for patients. Pharmacies without the necessary facilities for preparing individualized doses would continue to provide medications in whole packages. The new system is already in place in some countries like Canada, where prescriptions are sent directly to specific pharmacies for preparation, and patients may receive their medication the next day.

However, implementing this system in the Czech Republic would require changes in legislation since it is currently not permissible to dispense medication with a compromised primary package. The Ministry of Health acknowledges that the new system would require additional work and compensation for pharmacies. It also recognizes the potential impact on the availability of medications for specific patients if the distribution is not evenly spread across pharmacies.

The ministry aims to improve medication availability and reduce wastage, but critics argue that the proposed change may not address medication shortages or promote rational drug use effectively. The current packaging of medications, designed to correspond to the duration of treatment, helps prevent wastage. The ministry plans to conduct an analysis and discuss the proposed changes before incorporating them into the existing legislation on medications, which is currently undergoing revision.

The proposed amendment to the medication law also includes new obligations for manufacturers to maintain a monthly bimonthly supply of drugs to address shortages. However, manufacturers have criticized this requirement. Pharmacies would be responsible for informing authorities about the risks associated with the depletion of specific medications. The Minister of Health aims for the amendment to be passed quickly and come into effect in October.