Đỗ Văn Dũng, head of the Pharmaceutical Division at the HCM City Department of Health, talks to Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper about the need to tighten control of pharmacies in the city
Can you tell us about the software that HCM City has introduced to monitor pharmacies in the city?
There are 696 drug stores that have been hooked up to the city’s internet server, and we want to connect the rest of the stores in the city next year. The software connects with the Ministry of Health and the HCM City Department of Health so authorities can keep track of them.
Tracking the sale of pharmaceuticals in the city will stop drug stores selling antibiotics under the counter without a prescription. It will also help owners keep track of sales online and communicate with management agencies.
Around 20 per cent of drug stores in the city still use different software. Have authorities come up with a solution for this?
Nearly 80 per cent of pharmacies are now connected to the city’s health department, and the internet connection is free of charge. However, the remaining 20 per cent use different software and cannot connect to the Ministry of Health or the health department. We have recommended they use internet provider Viettel to connect with us and with the Hà Nội-based health ministry parallel with the internet server they are currently using.
Some pharmacies don’t want to pay US$78 per year to connect to the network. Will these stores be allowed to continue selling drugs?
This is already part of the law. However, the health ministry has given a timeline for pharmacies to decide whether or not they want to be a part of it. According to the Law on Pharmacy and Circular 02/2018 on the good practice of retail pharmacies, any store that is not connected online with the city or the health ministry will have their licence revoked.
This requirement aims to tighten the sale of drugs without prescriptions. The sale of antibiotics in many drug stores has become a headache in many countries, including Việt Nam.
Have authorities taken measures to stop pharmacies from submitting fake reports?
These sorts of things may happen. For example, a shop may stock from 1,000-2,000 kinds of drugs, but only report a fraction of them. That’s why we should launch communication campaigns to help drug store owners understand the value of professional ethics for the benefits of the public and themselves. In addition, we need a strong mechanism to fight trade fraud._VNS