Lebanon Businessnews News

Unified medical prescription approved
Pharmacists allowed to prescribe generic medicines
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The Order of Physicians in Beirut has agreed to use unified prescriptions for medicine, the Ministry of Public Health announced yesterday. “The unified prescription will be applicable within two months,” said Sharaf Bou Sharaf, former Chief of the Order of Physicians.

The unified prescriptions allow pharmacies to use generic medicines, approved by the Syndicate, instead of innovator (branded) ones. Doctors may prescribe both the innovator and generic medicines. Bou Sharaf said that the Syndicate has already prepared a list of generic medicines that are internationally-accredited, which it will provide to all doctors and pharmacists.

Generic drugs are a similar and cheaper alternative to brand or reference drugs (called “innovator” drugs) in intended use, quality, dosage, strength, and route of administration.

The Order of Physicians in the North has been applying this unified prescription since January 2014. But the Order of Physicians of Beirut only approved it yesterday, according to Bou Sharaf. The delay is related to a disagreement about mandating the printing process to a specific printing house.

Raidy Printing will now print the unified prescription papers. According to Bou Sharaf, around 300,000 prescriptions will be printed in the first phase, to be increased as needed.

This move of using the unified prescriptions is expected to cut costs for both the government and citizens. “The State pays back a portion of the price of drugs through the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). Therefore, buying less expensive drugs would lower expenses for the State,” said Bou Sharaf.

According to Rafic Salameh, board member of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the NSSF will soon study amending the articles of the fund's law related to this issue, in order to be able to repay subscribers the price of generic medicines prescribed. He said: “This procedure will cut NSSF’s costs.”
Reported by Rania Ghanem
Date Posted: Jan 22, 2015
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