Health Ministry Seeks Easier Extension of Prescriptions

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman speaks during a press conference regarding new mental health reform at the Ministry of Health office in Jerusalem on June 8, 2015. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman speaks during a press conference at the Health Ministry office in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman told the Knesset Health Committee Monday that he intended to institute a change in regulations on pharmacies to allow them to provide medications without a prescription. Under the program, pharmacists will be able to provide medicine to patients, who will be able to bring in their prescriptions within 3 days after the medicine is dispensed.

The program is aimed at enabling patients who are already taking medication to continue receiving it without a break, even if they have been unable to make an appointment with their doctor to write a new prescription.

Minister Rabbi Litzman intends to bring a bill changing the law on prescriptions to the Ministerial Law Committee for approval for legislation in the coming weeks. The law would require doctors to check the patient’s history before dispensing medication, and would require the prescription to be supplied within 72 hours.

The Israel Doctors Association said it would oppose the legislation. At the meeting, Professor Eliezer Rachmilevitz said that he was “afraid of a tragedy. In many cases, the pharmacist does not know the patient, and dispensing drugs under such circumstances can be dangerous. A doctor must be involved. You can expect a lot of lawsuits if this is approved.”

Speaking at the meeting, Minister Rabbi Litzman said that the Ministry intended to go ahead with the plan, “and if the Doctors Association doesn’t like it, they can find another Ministry to work with.” The move would not harm the medical profession, and enough safeguards will be built into the bill that will ensure that only those who need the medications will get them. “The legislation will enable many people to get emergency care as they need it,” he added.

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