22 February 2013
The Kamra ta’ l-Ispizjara ta’ Malta (The Malta Chamber of Pharmacists) refers to the statements made by the representatives of the Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) on 19 February as reproduced in the press and by the broadcasting media.
The Kamra is disappointed to note that, unfortunately, the AD is still ‘green’ on the status of Pharmacy in the European Union, including Malta where Pharmacy is proudly represented by the Kamra at National and European level.
The AD should know that Malta, as have the majority of EU countries, has adopted the principle of geo-demographic organisation in the licensing of pharmacies to ensure equity in access to pharmacists’ services in the community across Malta and Gozo. In fact, as a result of this legislation, several new pharmacies have been licensed and opened in small villages, particularly in Gozo, where these were not previously served. The AD should also know that the European Commission has recently ruled against artificial ‘’liberalisation’’ ideas in the pharmacy sector on the grounds that pharmacies are not shops and medicines are not ordinary items of commerce and thus, Pharmacy should be a regulated area of practice to ensure quality, safety and efficacy of medicines and patient safety. Thus, since the Maltese public has full access to pharmacists’ expertise including the dispensing of medicines from accessible pharmacies on all the National territory, there is no need to change legislation to allow the sale of any class of medicines from places other than pharmacies. This is allowed in the very few countries in the EU where the general sale of certain medicines has been introduced on the sole basis of the fact that some countries have extensive rural areas where pharmacies are not established and thus a pharmacy service is inaccessible.
Moreover, Malta’s legislation dictates that pharmacies are to open a minimum of 6 hours a day, 6 days a week. In addition, community pharmacies offer a Sunday Roster, so AD should be aware that the absolute majority of pharmacies supersede this minimum requirement and then operate according to a viable service provision.
AD should also know that the landmark public-private partnership of the Pharmacy of Your Choice (POYC) has already decentralised the provision of NHS pharmacy services to private pharmacies with the added benefit of having established, uniquely, patient registration and computerisation in 100 per cent of community pharmacies in Malta and Gozo, the highest level in Europe, laying the foundations for further development of pharmaceutical care services for the Maltese population.
The Executive Council of the Kamra Tal-Ispizjara ta’Malta