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Medical crisis overcomes 1st obstacle

Posted November. 13, 2000 15:10,   


With the agreement to the revision of the Pharmaceutical Laws by the tripartite negotiating body of doctors, pharmacists, and the government in the early morning Nov. 11, one obstacle in the solution to the medical crisis has been overcome.

"Following the final ratification of the Pharmaceutical Laws revision by the doctors and the pharmacists, we will draft a revision to the Pharmaceutical Laws and submit the draft to the National Assembly for passage,¡± Health and Welfare Minister Choi Sun-Jung said.

During the sixth negotiation by the tripartite representatives Nov. 11, an agreement was reached on the central issue of contention concerning the revision for the Pharmaceutical Laws for dispensing of substitute drugs.

According to the agreement, over-the-counter drugs per sale unit packaging would not be mandated but left up to the discretion of the pharmaceutical companies. However, should the voluntary prescription by the pharmacists prove to be widespread, the government would mandate minimum per-sales unit packaging.

As for substitution of prescribed medicines, the pharmacists would be required to have prior doctor's approval to fill the prescription with substitute drugs and only with those drugs that have known medicinal value and effect as the one originally prescribed.

However, certain doctors have continued resistance to the latest agreement. As such, for a full resolution to the current situation, there still are obstacles to overcome. Accordingly, the hard-line faction of the doctors¡¯ organization has called for a meeting of the central leadership of the doctor's organization and proposed a vote by all doctors.

"Although we feel the agreement is somewhat inadequate, we have decided to get the opinion of the doctors," spokesman for the Fight for the Rights of Docotrs Ju Soo-Ho said.

Meanwhile, students at medical schools said in a statement: "The packaging of drugs to prevent the voluntary prescription by pharmacists is inadequate." Many look with question to the meeting of the medical students to be held Nov. 13.

Song Sang-Keun songmoon@donga.com