Pharmacists Can Now Dispense Some Drugs Under New Law

Pharmacy. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Preparing prescriptions in a pharmacy. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Pharmacists will soon be allowed to dispense drugs to patients in advance of receiving a prescription from patients, the Knesset Health Committee has decided. A total of 21 medications that formerly required prescriptions written by doctors can now be issued before patients submit a prescription.

Drugs that are covered by the program include those for the treatment of migraine headaches, skin infections, obesity, eye and ear infections, and others. The program was designed mainly for individuals who usually take a medication but run out at a time their doctor is out of the office or the local health clinic is closed. Prescriptions need to be supplied at the next opportunity to obtain one, usually the next day.

Under the new rules, pharmacists will also be able to recommend generic or other low-cost alternatives to expensive drugs, for those buying medications not covered by the health basket. The new rules go into effect next month.

The new rules are supported by many MKs, but not all. MK Abdullah Abu Marif (United Arab List), a medical doctor, opposed the changes. “The main rule in medicine is that you only treat a disease once you know what the problem is, not before,” said the MK. “With this law we are causing harm too.”