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Pharmacist MEP warns of internet threat

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The Pharmaceutical Journal Vol 264 No 7102p941
June 24, 2000 News

Pharmacist MEP warns of internet threat

Mr Bashir Khanbhai, a pharmacist member of the European Parliament, has warned that pharmacists will have to change their working practices and seek legislative controls over the internet if they are to retain their place in health care in the 21st century. Mr Khanbhai represents the Eastern region of Britain.
Speaking at a Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union seminar at Maastricht from June 19 to 20, Mr Khanbhai warned that the need for many pharmacy visits would be eliminated as doctors became more proficient in using the internet and sent prescriptions electronically to internet pharmacies.
Mr Khanbhai suggested that Governments would see this as an attractive option for health care because mark-ups by wholesalers and pharmacies added up to 40 per cent to the cost of medicines. There was a great opportunity to achieve significant savings if an e-supply network employing fewer people and operating at minimal stock levels could be established.
"Such a development will threaten the existence of many wholesalers and pharmacies," the MEP said. However, he added: "This will not happen without a fight as independent retail pharmacists constitute a powerful potential lobby."
Mr Khanbhai went on: "It is clear that the sale of pharmaceuticals via the internet will erode the profit margins and incomes of traditional pharmacists running their shops. Legislation for e-commerce, consumer demand for transparency and competition will drive prices lower. Such reductions will come from reduced transaction costs by adoption of an e-supply chain that could diminish the protection pharmacists have enjoyed to date."
Calling for legislative controls, Mr Khanbhai said that legislation to guarantee the authority and validity of medical information on the internet, security and safety in prescribing and dispensing of medicines and the sale of non-prescription medicines was essential.
Information should be central to health care. The internet offered vast opportunities to present information on symptoms, treatment options, side effects and costs, but a lack of standards and appropriate legislation allowed questionable opinions to exist alongside valuable and authoritative information.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20001963

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