How To Set Up A Retail Pharmacy in Malaysia

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:

  1. Account registration on MyCoID portal
  2. Activate your account at SSM counter
  3. Then, you will receive MyCoID portal login credentials upon account activation
  4. Company name search on the Direct Incorporation Application on MyCoID portal homepage
  5. Other information under Name Search
  6. Super Form to clarify your proposed company name
  7. Business code selection and description
  8. Directors and shareholders information
  9. Application submission
  10. Make the payment of RM1,000 as an incorporation fee (before tax) and get a transaction receipt.
  11. 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).

i) Management

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.

ii) Premise

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.

Pharmacist on duty Malaysia
Pharmacist On 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.

iii) Practice

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.

Floor plan
An example of a retail pharmacy floor plan.

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.

Flowchart to apply a certificate in PRiSMA

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.

We here at Mayflax can help you to stock up on medications. With up to 2,000 medications, we can help you to get the best medications for the best price. Contact us here to know more!

Immunity After COVID-19 Vaccination: Detect Through Neutralising Antibodies

Neutralising antibody (NAb) is an antibody responsible for defending cells from organisms that cause diseases, or pathogens.

This antibody is naturally produced as an immune response. It is mainly as a response towards infections and vaccinations against infections.

Neutralising Antibodies (NAb) and SARS-CoV-2

If you have taken your vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, how do you know if you are protected?

So, this is where  Neutralising Antibodies Quantitative Test plays its role.

As mentioned earlier, our body will produce NAb in response to vaccination against infections. This proves to be true too after you receive the SARS-CoV-2 vaccination.

The immune response consists of many antibodies acting as an army to fight off the virus.

But, only a small subset of those antibodies can block the virus from infecting additional cells.

These antibodies are Neutralising Antibodies.

Neutralising Antibodies

NAb can result in lifelong immunity to certain infections.

But how exactly does the level of NAb correlated with the level of protection you have against this disease?

To simplify, NAb plays a role as a ‘Security Guard’. It stops pathogens from infecting the body by affecting their entrance into the body cell.

In enveloped viruses, NAb blocks the attachment of a virus to the cell and its entry into the cell.

On the other hand, in non-enveloped viruses, NAb binds to its protein shell surrounding the genetic information within a virus cell.

However, pathogens can change their structure and shape, or also known as conformational changes. Conformational changes ables pathogens to enter and replicate within a cell.

In this situation, NAb is able to stop pathogens to perform conformational changes. Thus, preventing them from entering.

Then, the white blood cell will degrade the pathogens and the spleen will then filter the pathogens. Lastly, it is excreted through urine or faeces.

Multiple studies have been done to show that neutralization level is highly predictive of immune protection.

However, even though your immune shows a positive result, you should still adhere to the COVID-19 prevention practices.

This means you should continue practising social distancing, wash hands and use hand sanitisers regularly.

Mayflax is a one-stop pharmaceutical product and service. We here at Mayflax provides test kits as well as medications for all kinds of diseases and ailments. 

Contact us here to know more.

References

  1. https://www.news-medical.net/
  2. Neutralizing Antibodies Against SARS-CoV-2 Variants After Infection and Vaccination

STI: Why You Should Get Yourself Screened

STI or Sexually Transmitted Infection is passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Usually, it is through vaginal, oral as well as anal sex.

However, intimate skin-to-skin contact may also spread certain types of STIs, like herpes and HPV.

1 in 15 people has STIs.

In addition, a total of 1.8 million people are infected with this infection and 720,000 new cases were reported in 2019.

Many types of STI exists, for example:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Syphilis
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C

Signs & Symptoms of STI

There are many common signs & symptoms of STI.

Usually they present with painful or burning urination, unusual discharge from the penis or vagina, or pain during sex.

STIs don't always show symptoms or may only cause mild symptoms. It is possible to have infection and not know it.

STI Screening

Thus, the best way to know whether you have STI is through STI screening.

Screening helps to give you the ease of mind by being confident about your status.

Untreated STIs may cause complications such as brain or spinal cord damages. It could even cause infertility.

For these reasons, early detections can help to prevent the progression of these diseases.

The screenings are usually non-invasive and require only a urine sample or vaginal swab.

Barriers of Screening

Some people may refuse to do the test. This could be caused by the negative stigma surrounding these diseases.

It may even result from the feeling of being ashamed or the general lack of awareness.

Some people might even fear the test procedure itself.

To combat these fears, awareness of the importance of STI screenings must be made.

Who Should be Screened?

WHO
Should be Screened?
WHAT
Should be Tested?
WHEN
Should screening be done?
Sexually active women ages 25Chlamydia
Gonorrhoea
Hepatitis B and C
HIV
Syphilis
At least once or twice a year.
All pregnant womenChlamydia
Gonorrhoea
Hepatitis B
HIV
Syphilis
First prenatal visit
In the third trimester

Anyone sharing drug injection equipment
HIVAt least once a year

All in all, it is important for you to screen if you fall into the mentioned category.

It should be noted that most STIs and their symptoms are curable through medications.

However, early detection can significantly prevent the complications of these diseases.

Here at Mayflax, we provide not only medications but also test kits for STI Screening. Get the best price from us! Contact us here to learn more!

References

  1. Centre of Disease Control (CDC): Which STD test Should I get?
  2. NHS: Sexually Transmitted Infections
  3. Stigma and Lack of Awareness Stop Young People Testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sleeping: Should You Aim for Better Quantity or Quality?

Sleeping allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. We always hear people saying that getting enough sleep is important for your body, but how much sleep is enough sleep? And should you go for quantity or quality?

How much sleep do you need?

Here’s how much kids and adults need, on average according to the CDC:

An average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep. Getting enough sleep within the recommended hour lowers the mortality risk. When you don’t get enough sleep, your mortality risk increases.  

To put it in another way, the shorter you sleep, the shorter your life.

But what’s even more amazing, the amount of sleep and mortality risk is not directly proportional. This means that getting more sleep above a certain threshold would not necessarily lower your mortality risk.

In fact, once you get past the 9 hours benchmark, your mortality risk rises.

Scientists have come up with 2 different theories relating to this.

The first is, in those studies, the individuals suffering from significant disease and illness try to sleep longer. Hence, it might be that actually, the disease triggers a response in those individuals to sleep more.

The second possible explanation is the poor quality of sleep. The mortality risk is also associated with sleep quality and is independent of sleep quantity. Thus, the lower your quality of sleep, the higher your mortality risk.

Moreover, people who have poor sleep quality often will try to compensate with longer sleep. Thus, it might be that having a poor quality of sleep will cause you to sleep longer. This is then associated with a higher risk of mortality. 

Improve your sleep quality and quantity

To improve your sleep quality and quantity, try practising the following tips:

  1. Work out daily
  2. Eat more fiber
  3. Avoid caffeine at least 7 hours before bed
  4. Create relaxing bedtime routine
  5. Create a comfortable sleep environment
  6. Listen to white and pink noise

By doing these steps, it can help you wind down in the evening and prepare for sleep.

In this modernity where people are pushing themselves to work long hours and sometimes neglect sleep, it might be a great idea if we start prioritizing our sleep so that one day we will be able to enjoy the fruits of all the hard labour.

For more articles, visit Mayflax.

References

  1. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/why-do-we-need-sleep
  2. https://casper.com/blog/how-to-increase-deep-sleep/
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html

Leptospirosis in Malaysia: “The Great Mimicker”

Leptospirosis contributes to over 1.03 million cases annually with 58,900 reported deaths globally. As a matter of fact, Southeast Asia has the second highest cases of Leptospirosis.

This figure may be understated due to a lack of updated and reliable data on leptospirosis infection in many countries.

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is an animal-borne disease. It is caused by a bacterium called Leptospira interrogans, a highly motile and aerobic spirochete.

Typically, wild and domestic animals such as rodents, cattle and wild animals may carry the bacterium in their kidneys.

Cause of Prevalence in Malaysia

The first ever human case of severe Leptospirosis in Malaysia was in 1927.

Since Malaysia is located near the equator, Malaysia harbors a suitable environment for the progression of this bacterium.

Moreover, factors such as occupation, animal contact, adventure travel, and lack of sanitation contributes to the spread Leptospirosis.

How do you get Leptosprosis?

Leptospirosis may be spread through the urine of infected animals, which can get into water or soil. Leptospira interrogans can even survive there for weeks to months.

Contact with urine from infected animals can infect humans. This includes indirect contact, such as from soil, food and, also water infected with the urine.

The bacterium enters into the body through the breaks of skin, such as scratches as well as open wounds.

Additionally, it can also get into a person through the nose, mouth or genitals.

Signs & Symptoms

Leptospirosis is also known as “The Great Mimicker” because patients infected with this disease may mimic symptoms of other unrelated infections, such as hepatitis as well as dengue.

Symptoms includes:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
  • Red eyes
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash

Treatment

According to National Antibiotic Guideline Malaysia (2019), leptospirosis can be treated with oral antibiotics such as doxycycline and penicillin.

It is advisable to give an early treatment of antibiotics in the course of the disease. Patients with severe symptoms may require intravenous antibiotics.

Pain management medications such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen can treat fever and pain.

Ways to prevent and control

In Malaysia, the main cause of leptospirosis are environmental, occupational and, also behavioural factors. Thus, several actions may help in combating this infection.

1. Health education

Organizing public awareness campaign can help in creating awareness. Moreover, this approach also helps to deliver important messages as well as motivate them to take preventive actions.

2. Risk assessment of possible contaminated water sources/bodies

Authority should assess possibly contaminated areas. Additionally, posting warning signage can help to notify public of the hazard of the contaminated area.

3.  Public behavioural prevention

Persons with occupational and recreational exposure to potentially contaminated water or soil should also wear protective clothing. Additionally, protecting open wounds with a waterproof dressing and immediately washing the exposed area with clean water can help to reduce the chances of infection from leptospirosis.

For more articles, visit Mayflax here.

Reference

  1. GUIDELINES FOR THE DIAGNOSIS, MANAGEMENT, PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF LEPTOSPIROSIS IN MALAYSIA (2011)
  2. NATIONAL ANTIBIOTIC GUIDELINES MALAYSIA (2019)

Improving Adherence Through Counselling

Improving patients’ adherence has been a challenge for healthcare workers. Nonadherence is a complex and tough issue. Consequently, it can cause poor clinical outcomes and contribute to poor quality of life.

As such, interventions must be done to educate as well as to motivate patients.

There are many reasons for non-adherence. Some of them include, patients not believing that the medication is necessary, accidentally take more or less than prescribed and even completely forget to take them altogether.

To improve this, healthcare professionals must utilize communication and behavioral strategies such as counselling.

It should be noted that counselling should be personalized to each patient. This is because each patient has different causes and reasons for non-adherence.

Although counselling can assess a patient’s adherence, there are still a few limitations. A patient may lie about taking his or her medications on time or may even blatantly refuse to cooperate.

As such, instead of using traditional counselling methods, try practising counselling that empathizes with the patient’s intrinsic motivation. The approach to counselling should be easily understood and supportive of the patient’s needs. Listed below are a few pieces of advice towards improving patient’s adherence rates.

1. Avoid using medical jargon

Instead of saying “Take this to treat your hypertension”, try saying “Let’s try this for your high blood pressure.”

2. Avoid judgement-centered question

Instead of asking “You’ve been taking all of your pills in your therapy regimen, right?”, say “How many pills in your therapy regimen would you say you missed this week?”

3. Assist patient in setting medication-taking goals

You can do this by asking “Which strategy seems like something you could try to increase our statin taking?”

4. Be clear about the benefit of the medicine

For example, you can say “If you take your diabetes medicines and control your blood sugar, you may not need to have your eyeglass prescription changed as often.”

To summarize, improving medication adherence improves patient’s confidence to manage their illness.

Indeed, counselling together with other interventions help to improve patients’ medication knowledge and also adherence.

Evidently, asking the right questions can also help make a real difference.

For more articles like this, visit Mayflax.

References

  1. Costa E, Giardini A, Savin M, et al. Interventional tools to improve medication adherence: review of literature. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2015;9:1303–1314.
  2. https://www.aafp.org/fpm/2016/0900/p52.html#fpm20160900p52-b1
  3. https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/patient-counseling-approaches-to-enhance-medication-adherence

Anti-microbial Resistance: A Global Threat

Anti-microbial resistance has long been a serious global public threat. It happens when bacteria, viruses and fungi no longer respond to medicines due to mutations.

This makes it harder to treat the disease thus causing severe illness and death.

The discovery of antibiotics by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928, has helped save millions of lives from infectious diseases.

However, as people build antibiotic resistance, it is estimated that the annual death toll may reach 10 million by 2050.

This will also negatively affect the economy as treating antibiotic resistance comes with a high cost.

What’s more worrying is that, since the 1980s, there has been no major new class of antimicrobial. This will severely restrict future therapeutic options.

How It Happens

This crisis happens due to several factors. The first is the overuse of these medications.

Studies have shown that in 30% to 50% of the cases that the usage of antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly whether it is due to :

  • treatment of indication
  • choice of agent
  • duration of antibiotic therapy

Another reason is the improper usage of antibiotics as anti-microbial resistance may occur when patients do not take their medications as prescribed.

This includes stopping treatment as soon as they feel a little better or using leftover antibiotics for another illness. This can lead to antibiotic resistance.

In other words, those that don’t follow the prescribed course of the antibiotics would build anti-microbial resistance.

Another factor is that antibiotic developments by large pharmaceutical companies are not a profitable investment.

This is because antibiotics are used for a short period and are not as profitable as drugs treating chronic conditions.

This means there will be fewer innovations in the antibiotic classes of medications.

Several actions can prevent anti-microbial resistance. Such as:

1. Public awareness and Education

Organizing public awareness program can help in increasing awareness. Another method is to include specific antibiotic labelling as well as counselling regarding the proper usage of antibiotics.

2. Appropriate Use of Anti-microbials

Optimize the use of anti-microbial medicines. These medications should only be prescribed when indicated.

3. Infection Prevention and Control

Reduce the incidence of infection through effective sanitation, hygiene and infection prevention measures.

These efforts aim to ultimately reduce unnecessary and inappropriate consumption of anti-microbial medicines. All in all, efforts from all parties can help in preserving the efficacy of these precious drugs for the present and future generations.

For more articles like this, visit Mayflax.

References:

  1. Malaysian Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (MyAP-AMR) 2017-2021
  2. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/combating-antibiotic-resistance
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/q-a.html
  4. Ventola C. L. (2015). The antibiotic resistance crisis: part 1: causes and threats. P & T : a peer-reviewed journal for formulary management40(4), 277–283

How Community Pharmacies Evolve During Covid-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 is a pandemic affecting socioeconomics and causing health challenges across the globe. While most clinics start practicing appointments for non-essential care, community pharmacy have become the first choice for patients seeking fast remedies for non-essential care.

So how exactly did community pharmacies in Malaysia evolve in response to COVID-19?

1. Practice social distancing and physical barriers

The markings on the ground re-enforce physical distancing between customers especially during payment and waiting for pharmacy consultations.

These pharmacies also provide hand sanitizers which are freely available for customers and employees.

Moreover, physical barriers such as acrylic glass barriers in front of counter acts as an interception for respiratory droplets from transmitting between staff and customer. Some pharmacies even require their staff to wear face shield and disposable gloves.

2. Adjusting pharmacy services

While most pharmacies adapted by enhancing social distancing, some pharmacies went out of their way by innovating new services.

Among these services are drive-through service, home-delivery service as well as curbside delivery.

These services enable customers to avoid visiting physical stores to get their medications.

Customers may now stay in the comfort of their home or vehicle, minimizing contact while waiting for their medications to be safely delivered.

3. Communication with patients

As pharmacies opt to reduce contact to maintain social distancing, this would mean fewer interactions between pharmacists and their customers.

The communication between pharmacist and their customers is crucial since it could be the pull factor for customers to become repeat customers.

Hence, telepharmacy was introduced. This enables pharmacist and customers to interact virtually and reducing unnecessary visits.

To sum up, community pharmacies have played their part of the community. They go above and beyond to take care of their community and more innovations are encouraged to provide high-quality pharmaceutical care.

If you own a pharmacy, save yourself from the hassle of having multiple suppliers. Mayflax is a pharmaceutical wholesaler with over 25 years of experience and over 2,000 products. We promise a convenient ordering process with quick and timely delivery. Find out more here!

Reference

Pharmaceutical Journal: How to keep community pharmacy running during Covid-19 pandemic

Gill M. S. (2021). Challenges and Changes of Pharmacy Practice During the COVID-19 Crisis in Malaysia: Instability as an Opportunity. The Malaysian journal of medical sciences : MJMS28(2), 171–176. https://doi.org/10.21315/mjms2021.28.2.16

Generic medicines: Reducing healthcare cost

According to IMS Health Institute, the US healthcare system saves nearly $2.2 trillion from 2009 to 2019, by substituting generic medicines from its original counterpart.

Despite that, Malaysia however, has a low total expenditure for generic medicines.

It is estimated that Malaysia spends only 30% of its total spending on pharmaceuticals on generic medicines, while 70% is from innovator products.

Studies showed that innovator products sold in Malaysia were 27-90% more expensive than the generics, leading to high healthcare expenditure.

Healthcare expenditure in Malaysia

In 2011, the total expenditure on prescription medicine for government hospitals and primary health clinics was RM 1.767 billion.

The high expenditure may be due to high medicine prices, poor availability of generics as well as high use of innovator or branded medicines

Thus, World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the generic medications policies to be implemented in member countries to promote the availability and affordability of essential medications.

Generic medicines are equivalent to its innovator brand in terms of:

  • Dosage form
  • Safety
  • Strength & Route of administration
  • Quality
  • Performance
  • Characteristics
  • Intended use

To sum up, it is an equal substitute for its original counterpart.

The role of generic medicine is to provide a more affordable alternative than its innovator brands, without compromising with its safety, efficacy and quality.

However, knowledge on generic drugs is still low.

In fact, a study revealed that many patients were not aware of the similarities of generic and original brand medication.

On the other hand, another study concluded that majority of physicians from private medical centres in Malaysia had negative perceptions on generic drugs.

Consequently, it may cause of limited use of generic medicines in the private medical centre.

Policy to encourage use

Generic Medicines Policy (GMP), a part of National Medicines Policy is formulated to encourage the use of generic medicines among different healthcare stakeholders.

Other than that, implementing national medicine pricing policy which controls drug prices in both public and private sector, will be a great effort to reduce expenditure and improve medicine affordability in Malaysia.

In conclusion, there are several techniques that can be implemented to encourage use.

This is without forgetting that both patients and prescriber must be educated on the similarities and differences of generic medications.

Here at Mayflax, we provide up to 2,000 pharmaceutical products, both original and generic brands. Buy them with the best prices from us, to offer the best price to your customers. Click here to learn more!

Reference

Ahmad, N. S., & Islahudin, F. (2018). Affordability of essential medicine prices in Malaysia’s private health sector. 

https://www.pharmacy.gov.my/v2/sites/default/files/document-upload/gmap-book-2013.pdf

Ministry of Health Malaysia. Malaysian National Medicines Policy

Rohit Kumar, M. A. (2015). Knowledge and perceptions of physicians from private neducak centres towards generic medicines: a nationwide survey from Malaysia. Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice.

Wong, Z. Y., Hassali, M. A., Alrasheedy, A. A., Saleem, F., Yahaya, A. H., & Aljadhey, H. (2014). Patients’ beliefs about generic medicines in Malaysia

Generic and original drug: What is the difference?

Generic or original?

What is generic drug and what is original drug? An original brand drug or innovator drug is simply the first drug created containing a specific active ingredient to receive approval for use.

In addition, its efficacy, safety and quality have been fully established.

As opposed to original drug, generic drug is mainly a drug with the same active ingredient to its innovator drug and also have the same efficacy, safety and quality.

Common myths about generic drug

  • Generic drug is not as safe as its original drug
  • It is not as effective as innovator
  • It takes longer time to act in the body

A drug must comply to three major factors, Efficacy, Safety and Quality.

There is no truth in the myths surrounding generic drugs.

This is because firstly, generic drugs use the same active ingredients as the innovator drugs.

Though it may appear differently in terms of colour or appearance, it does not affect the major factors; Efficacy, Safety and Quality.

Secondly, the Drug Control Authority (DCA) imposes a stringent evaluation procedure that generic pharmaceutical manufacturers have to follow.

These products have to undergo bioequivalent (BE) studies to ensure its therapeutic effect is interchangeable to its innovator drug.

Not only does this rule apply to generic drugs produced from local pharmaceutical manufacturer companies, but even to generic drugs imported internationally.

Why do I feel original drug works better than generic drugs?

As mentioned before, generic drugs have different appearance than its innovator drugs. This in turn may cause a certain perception about the quality and efficacy of the drug, either positive or negative.

Oddly enough, perception plays a role in the way the drug works in our body.

So, it may be simply because of wrong perception of this drug.

Researches analyzing reports from scientific databases MEDLINE and EMBASE found that even though 60% of the studies reported no difference between the drugs, people taking generic medicine have higher risk of hospital visits.

However, it is important to note that the studies only show a correlation, not the effect of generic drug.

Generally, people with lower socioeconomic status tend to have worse healthcare outcomes.

They are also more likely to choose generic drugs due to its lower cost.

Additionally, the study’s researchers also state that a firm conclusion cannot be drawn due to insufficient evidence.

drug cost

But why does generic drugs cost less than original brands?

Before understanding this issue, we must first understand that the process of developing new drug is not only expensive, it is also lengthy.

The processes involve synthesis, chemical identification and purification of the chemical, development into a pharmaceutical dosage form and lastly, testing and trials.

All of this may take up to 15 years with total expenditure estimated to be up to US$1bil (RM3.6bil).

The manufacturer is granted a patent for a few years, typically 5 to 15 years.

During this period, they are given the exclusivity to manufacture and market the drug.

Understandably, the cost of the innovator drug during this monopoly period tend to be high.

Soon as the patent period ends, manufacturers of generic medicines will then manufacture the generic form of the drug.

By skipping the whole extensive process mentioned, generic manufacturers are able to produce the drug chemically with shorter duration and significantly less costly.

Moreover, there will be multiple manufacturers for generic drugs. Thus, creating competition in the market and resulting in lower price.

In relation to above mentioned, Mayflax is an established pharmaceutical wholesaler providing a wide variety of medications, whether original or generic. Click here to learn more!

References

https://www.fda.gov/drugs/generic-drugs/generic-drug-facts

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/brand-and-generic-drugs#which-is-better