Malaysia has observed a growth in retail pharmacies in the past few years.
Retail pharmacies in particular have been the first line of defence against the pandemic as people prefer to visit their local pharmacy to seek help in minor health issues.
With the growing market for retail pharmacy, perhaps you’ve dreamed of owning your own independent pharmacy or even opening a retail pharmacy branch one day.
Here, we will discuss the basic steps to open a retail pharmacy.
1. Make a Plan
The first phase of opening any business is to research and plan.
Maybe by now you already have a location in your mind or have even purchased a store lot.
Study the population and understand customers’ needs. Do your research on the current pharmacy (if there’s any) and create something different to encourage locals to choose you over other pharmacies.
Moreover, one of the most important factors in the success of your business is location.
Find a place that has a lot of traffic. This means that the location is a regularly travelled route for your ideal customers.
At the end of this process, draw up a business plan that you can revise as necessary once your establishment kicks off.
2. Register your company with SSM
The most common type of company registration in Malaysia is ‘Sendirian Berhad’ or Sdn Bhd.
According to the Companies Act 2016, only 1 director and 1 shareholder is needed to form an Sdn Bhd company.
You will need to visit the nearest SSM office once for confirmation of identification.
The fee for the registration of a company is RM1,010.
A step-by-step guide on the registration of your company is as the following:
- Account registration on MyCoID portal
- Activate your account at SSM counter
- Then, you will receive MyCoID portal login credentials upon account activation
- Company name search on the Direct Incorporation Application on MyCoID portal homepage
- Other information under Name Search
- Super Form to clarify your proposed company name
- Business code selection and description
- Directors and shareholders information
- Application submission
- Make the payment of RM1,000 as an incorporation fee (before tax) and get a transaction receipt.
- Notice of Registration as proof of incorporation received through email
As a general guide, the registration of your company should be no later than thirty (30) days from the date of commencement of business.
3. Review the Community Pharmacy Benchmarking Guideline
This guideline was developed for the purpose of maintaining a professional image of retail pharmacies.
It also provides a checklist on the standards that need to be complied with for the purpose of community pharmacy practice set up.
To summarize, there are basically 4 major factors that you have to take into account, which are the management of your pharmacy, the layout of premises, pharmacy practice and standard operating procedure (SOP).
According to this guideline, your pharmacist should have full management control of the community pharmacy.
Moreover, the pharmacist should have a significant representation in the executive board and possess share equity.
However, please note that if the pharmacist is not one of the major shareholders in your company, then you have to register under Bodies Corporate. We will discuss further this step soon.
The retail pharmacy must comply with the Local Authority Laws.
Ideally, the premise shouldn’t be shared with other non-pharmacy related businesses.
However, if this situation is unavoidable, both premises must have full separation with clear signage.
Your pharmacy should have a signboard that projects a professional image. It must not have any kind of advertisement on it.
Additionally, it is encouraged to have a community pharmacy logo on your signboard.
If you plan to display product advertisements, it must be in accordance with the relevant legislation.
For example, advertisements of poisons must get approval from Lembaga Iklan Ubat.
Moreover, you must display the ‘Notice of Pharmacist On Duty’ which includes the photo of your pharmacist, name of the pharmacist and time/day of duty.
Additionally, your pharmacist is required to display their Registration Certificate and Annual Practicing Certificate (APC) for the current year.
Before operating your pharmacy, it is important for you to prepare a locked glass cabinet.
This is to store your poison medications, with the keys held by the pharmacist in charge.
Moreover, internal and external preparation should be arranged separately.
On the other hand, if you plan to sell medications that must be stored at low temperatures, then you must prepare a refrigerator.
Keep in mind that you must record the temperature daily and verify.
Other spaces that you need are the medicine dispensing area, counselling area and waiting area.
As for the medicine dispensing area, it must have clear signage written ‘Presciption Counter’ or ‘Pharmacy’.
Your counselling area must be comfortable for your patients and preferably is a private room with a half glass door.
Whereas your waiting area should be comfortable with adequate space for customers.
It is also a requirement that you keep several references books either offline or online.
Your retail pharmacy should also take the appropriate pest control measure.
Daily cleaning with cleaning procedures and schedules must also be set out and made available.
For safety requirements, it must comply with all statutory requirements which include appropriate fire escape way, fire alarm, fire extinguisher as well as occupier’s indemnity.
According to the guideline, your retail pharmacy should operate minimum of 40 hours with a pharmacist.
There are several essential services that your retail pharmacy must-have. This includes:
- Screening of prescription(s)
- Dispensing of medicines
- Compounding of medicines (patient-specific)
- Counseling and advisory
- Monitoring and screening tests
- Pharmacy management in drug procurement
- Proper documentation
You can also offer optional services such as Medication Therapy Adherence Clinic (MTAC) or Home Medication Review (HMR), among others.
As for your products, it is a requirement that 70% of your merchandise consist of registered pharmaceutical products, health and nutritional products, surgical and medical devices, personal care and rehabilitation aids.
Sales of items that may harm customers’ health are strictly prohibited, whereas non-pharmacy products should be minimised.
Whether you are the pharmacist or you’re hiring a pharmacist to be in charge of your retail pharmacy, there are some pointers that you should be aware of.
Firstly, the pharmacist should be registered with the Pharmacy Board of Malaysia and observe the Code of Conduct for Pharmacists and Bodies.
The pharmacist in charge should also maintain a professional image by wearing a pharmacist tunic and wearing a nametag with the word “Pharmacist”.
Additionally, the ratio of pharmacist to prescription should not exceed 80 to 100 prescriptions per pharmacist per day.
The pharmacist should also keep the records and documentation updated as required by the law.
This record should also be kept for a minimum of 2 years.
For records of dispensing of poisons, you must prepare Prescription Book, a Prescription file as well as a Poison C Book (if you are selling Poison C medicines).
Your Prescription Book should be divided into columns for Date, Prescription’s Serial Number, Patient’s Name, Patient’s IC, Patient’s Address, Item Name and Item Quantity.
As for your Prescription file, it is where you keep your prescription.
Write your own Prescription Serial Number that is the same as on the Prescription Book.
This is to ensure you are able to refer the prescription on the Prescription Book according to the serial number that you have written.
iv) Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
As for this part, we will go through the standard operating procedures in a retail pharmacy.
All pharmacy staff must be adequately trained.
In a situation where a customer comes to the pharmacy to seek treatment, pharmacy staff must know when to refer the customer to a pharmacist.
On the other hand, the pharmacist must also know when to refer customers to a doctor.
Pharmacists should counsel and assess the health problems after obtaining crucial information such as the age of the patient or how long has the problem existed.
After the assessment, the pharmacist should help to offer appropriate advice which can be either pharmacological or non-pharmacological.
Ensure that patient has a full understanding of the counselling session which should include an explanation of the condition, how to use the medication as well as prevention.
If a medication is dispensed to the patient, the pharmacist should comply with the Good Dispensing Practice.
The guideline includes how to label the medications as well as requirements when dispensing medications to the patients.
This is to ensure the right medication is dispensed to the right patient, with the medication labelled with the right route and the right dose at the right time.
Apart from that, the pharmacist should have extensive knowledge of counterfeit items.
This is to ensure that the pharmacist will only purchase medications from legitimate sources as well as be able to educate the public on how to differentiate between original and counterfeit items.
Once you have prepared your retail pharmacy according to this guideline, you can proceed to the next step.
4. Get Pharmacy License
Then, apply for a Type A retail license, the most crucial step in opening a retail pharmacy. Your retail pharmacy cannot operate without getting this license.
Worry not because the application for this license is quite easy! (If you have all of the documents, of course!)
You can submit your application through the mypharma-c website. To summarize, you will need to upload a few documents to apply for this license, for example:
- A copy of your IC
- An updated passport sized photo of yourself
- Fully Registered Pharmacist Certificate
- Annual Practicing Certificate (ARC) for current year
- SSM Certificate
- Certificate of License of Trade, Business and Industries
- Layout plan of your pharmacy
Read here for a full step-by-step on how to apply for your pharmacy license.
However, as mentioned earlier, if the pharmacist is not one of the major shareholders in your company, then you have to register under Bodies Corporate.
How to apply for Certificate of Bodies Corporate
The great thing is that you can apply for this certificate online! It will only take up to 3 working days if you have all the needed documents.
What are the documents you’ll need? We’ll tell you in a bit!
To apply for a Certificate of Bodies Corporate, first of all, you’ll need to create an account with my Prisma.
You can do this by sending an inquiry to the PRiSMA Helpdesk and writing an inquiry stating that you would like to create an account to apply for the Certificate of Bodies Corporate.
Include the email you’re going to use for this account as well as the company’s SSM number.
Be sure to change the category to ‘BC’.
The operator will email you a link for first-time login and now you should be able to set your secure word and your password.
For the first time applying for a Bodies Corporate Certificate, no payment will be needed. However, fees will be incurred for Bodies Corporate Certificate renewal.
Then, click on ‘My Application’ and apply for Bodies Corporate Certificate for the current year.
Fill in all the required details which include your company’s pharmacist’s name, identification number and registration number. You will also need to include details of your company such as company name and address.
As for the documents needed, they are:
- Company Registration Certificate
- Copy of Return Giving Particulars in Register of Directors, Managers And Secretaries
- Copy of Return Allotment of Shares
Please note that the copies of your documents must be verified by either a registered pharmacist or a registered medical practitioner.
They must also sign the document and write their annual retention number.
Next, upload all the documents and submit them.
You can also refer to the flowchart below for a summary of the process.
Once you get your Certificate of Bodies Corporate, you may submit the together with other documents needed to apply for License A.
After your application is approved, the Licensing Officer will visit your premises for inspection to approve your Type A license application.
Finally, you should be able to start operating your pharmacy once you’ve got your Type A License.
5. Launch your pharmacy
Before the official launch of your pharmacy, it is important to let the community know about you.
This can be done by advertising your pharmacy through social media as well as signage that is eye-pleasing can also help to attract customers and passer-by.
Have a soft opening to let the community know about you. This should also be the time to engage with your new customers and develop a relationship with them.
Build customers’ trust for your pharmacy by ensuring that you give every customer extra information on products they have an interest in.
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