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S’poreans seek cheaper medicine in M’sia, prompting calls for stricter monitoring

Singaporeans flock to Malaysia for cheaper medication, sparking calls for tighter oversight and adherence to regulations. Concerns rise over lax monitoring in Johor pharmacies.



MALAYSIA: The lure of affordable medicine prices in Malaysia has prompted a surge of Singaporean shoppers crossing the Causeway, exploiting the depreciated ringgit to acquire essential medications at more reasonable rates.

However, this influx has raised significant concerns over the inadequate monitoring of medication sales, particularly in certain Johor pharmacies, prompting calls for more stringent oversight.

A report by The New Straits Times (NST) on Monday (4 March) highlighted growing apprehensions regarding the disregard for doctor-prescribed prescriptions in these establishments, indicating a potential breach of regulatory protocols.

Addressing these concerns, Malaysian Pharmacists Society president Professor Amrahi Buang said that it is the responsibility of pharmacists to carry out necessary checks before providing medicine categorized under Group B.

Medicines regulated by the Poisons Act 1952 fall into two categories: Group B and Group C in which Group B drugs require a doctor’s prescription for dispensing, whereas pharmacists can provide Group C medications without a prescription after consulting with the patient.

Over-the-counter medicines, which are not controlled under the Poisons Act 1952, include items like cough syrups, sore throat remedies, anti-diarrheal preparations, and laxatives.

Prof Amrahi stressed that pharmacists need to verify the authenticity of prescriptions, highlighting that Singaporean shoppers must present valid prescriptions issued by Malaysian doctors, as prescriptions from Singapore are not considered valid.

“The law and regulations are in place, and pharmacy licences are issued to the pharmacist, not the proprietor of the company.

“If the pharmacists failed to ensure the prescriptions’ authenticity, then they are guilty of breaching laws and regulations under the Poisons Act,” Prof Amrahi said.

Echoing these sentiments, Johor Health Department director Dr Mohtar Pungut @ Ahmad reiterated the gravity of dispensing controlled drugs without proper prescriptions, emphasizing that such actions constitute a punishable offense under existing regulations.

He warned against the unauthorized sale of medications categorized under Group B of the Poisons Act, emphasizing the need for compliance with licensing requirements and pharmacist authorization.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad affirmed the ministry’s commitment to investigating the matter thoroughly, acknowledging the seriousness of the issue.

He pledged to engage with relevant authorities to address the concerns raised and ensure adherence to regulatory standards.

Healthcare professionals, including Dr M. Mageswari, a physician based in Johor Baru, expressed apprehensions regarding the potential health risks associated with the unregulated sale of controlled drugs, NST reported.

She remarked, “Without regulation, there is a heightened risk of adverse health consequences,” while advocating for measures to maintain sufficient stock levels and reasonable prices for consumers.

The report also shed light on the experiences of Singaporean shoppers, with one anonymous individual revealing their reliance on Johor Bahru pharmacies for affordable hypertension medication.

“…I can buy it over the counter in a pharmacy in JB at a fraction of the price. I pay about RM70 (S$19) in Malaysia,” she said.

She also claimed to have never required to present a doctor’s prescription.

“The counter staff would only ask me if I have used it before.

“I would reply ‘yes’ and put down my particulars in the registration book at the counter,” she was quoted as saying, adding that she would usually buy two boxes at a time.

An investigation conducted by NST revealed lapses in monitoring across multiple pharmacies in the state capital, where individuals, including foreigners, could make purchases without limitations on quantity or inquiries about prescriptions.

According to report from Channel NewsAsia (CNA) on 12 February, Steven Chia, host of Talking Point, observed during his visits to various pharmacies in Johor, from small independents to large chains, that they readily sold him various medications, including painkillers, without any screening or inquiries.

Professor Kenneth Lee, a professor of health economics at Taylor’s University, criticized the prevalent practice in Johor where Singaporeans can easily obtain prescription drugs and controlled medications from pharmacists, labeling it as a “very bad practice.”

He emphasized the necessity for meticulous record-keeping in pharmacies, explaining that every dispensed prescription medicine should be documented in a prescription book.

This documentation includes details such as the quantities supplied, dates of dispensation, and patient information, all verified by the pharmacist’s signature.

Lee highlighted the importance of such records for regulatory compliance, enabling authorities from the Ministry of Health to ensure adherence to legal protocols.

Additionally, Lee remarked that although the laws governing medication sales in Malaysia and Singapore are similar, he wasn’t surprised by Chia’s ability to purchase medicines in Johor without a prescription or providing personal information.

He described these illicit transactions as commonplace, attributing them to the pressure on pharmacists to maintain business viability.

“These so-called illegal sales are very common,” Lee noted. “Because if you don’t sell the medicine to the patients, they’d simply (go) next door. So you lose business — you may not be able to survive.”

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What stricter monitoring? We are trying to lower health care costs right? Didn’t that fking Khaw Boon Wan at one time recommend Singaporeans to go to JB for eldercare needs? Maybe once that MRT to JB finally comes into operation, those international pharma companies will be forced to lower the prices charged to Singapore companies.

Cmon, everything is cheaper over the causeway, and not just meds please, just as, … everything is through the roof in SillyPore, proven by the title of “most expensive city” !!!

Truth is, … idiots, imbeciles and ignoramuses exists for a particular reason, and in this very instance in SillyPore, they exists to support and swear in the pap, their cronies and policies that will consistently ensure that the accolade of, the most expensive city in the world, … is SillyPore’s and nobody else’s, for a long long time !!!

Ask the small fry to be White while the PAP wearing white to deceive others. They should change uniform to wear Black lah … Lying no transparency, cahoots with foreign Interference to promote their concert interest.

Medicine are basic needs … Why jack up the price again?!?

If Malaysia can have it cheaper, the govt and corporate should be explaining why they are jacking up the price. Explain in that wayang parliament of cahoots!!!!!

Just like petrol 3/4 tank…Soon the control list will be all the medicine the daft locals in Singapore cannot buy in JB or if allowed to buy ,will be VERY LIMITED IN QUANTITY!
Afterall, since the fucking dafties voted for it, the cronies ,elites need to make huge profit from pharma business and PAP from the taxes, or else how to buy another GCB, right?😆😆😆🤣🤣🤣

Fucking daft Sinkie instead of complaining , why don’t these morons ask themselves, how come just cross over a damn bridge can the same medicine can be 30 % cheaper sometimes even more.
This sort of fucking stupidity of locals ,kind of explains why they keep voting the PAP!😆😆😆😆😆

Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) covers 23 chronic illness.
Visiting a GP within the neighbourhood can cover 100% prescription and consultation costs.

All Pioneer & Merdeka generation will likely get free or pay a smaller fee after subsidies.
This is automatically calculated at the GP’s clinic.

The hassle of going across the causeway is time consuming, and also an expense in itself.
But some people like to visit JB often.. for other activities… ahem..

This situation arises because the PAP govt. refuses free healthcare including medication to all Singaporeans who have become so pathetic because of the high costs of living that they have to look for cheaper sources. Healthcare should be made available at zero costs to citizens. Why blame Malaysian pharmacies?