The Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society’s Road to Healthcare Reform

Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society, the leading voice in championing healthcare reform in Malaysia
  • Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary, with over 600 pharmacists nationwide attended the event
  • Officiated by Datuk Dr. Shahnaz Binti Murad, Deputy Director General, Research and Technical Support, Ministry of Health Malaysia, the event highlighted MPS’ effort in championing important healthcare related issues, locally and globally
  • Some of MPS’ initiatives include signing the patient charter in 1995 with MMA, MDA, and FOMCA, petitioning for zero rated GST and placing the Guidelines for the Good Pharmaceutical Trade Practice (GPTP) under the National Medicines Policy

KUALA LUMPUR, MAY 18, 2017 – Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) celebrated its 50th anniversary, where the event was graced by the presence of Datuk Dr. Shahnaz Binti Murad, Deputy Director General, Research and Technical Support, Ministry of Health Malaysia and Amrahi Buang, President of MPS, along with 600 pharmacists nationwide. The event was to recognize MPS’ initiatives in advocating significant healthcare related issues since its establishment in 1967.

Representing Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah the Director General of Health Malaysia was Dr. Shahnaz, who in his congratulatory message stated that “Throughout their 50 years of establishment, they (MPS) had been the leading voice championing various healthcare related issues, not only locally but also globally. Therefore I would like to encourage pharmacists, regardless of sectors, either private or public to be an active member of the society. MPS is the best platform to gather all pharmacists and ensure that the ideas, voices, and suggestions would be heard.”

In his speech during the event inauguration, MPS President, Amrahi Buang shared that MPS has championed healthcare reforms over the years.

“In 1995 we signed the patient charter with MMA, MDA, and FOMCA as we recognised that medication safety and patient safety needed to be prioritized”, he said.

“We were the only NGO to successfully petition the government in 2015 to approve zero rated GST for scheduled poisons (Group B & C); to ensure the RAKYAT was not burdened by GST imposed on scheduled poisons.” he added.

In his speech, Amrahi also noted the effort of MPS to further reduce the financial burden on the rakyat  and control the general pricing of medication by placing the Guidelines for the Good Pharmaceutical Trade Practice (GPTP) under the National Medicines Policy, while working hand in hand with the Malaysian Competition Commission (MyCC) and other stakeholders.

“When it comes to public health issues, MPS is in the forefront. We provide accreditation of the mQuit services provider in community pharmacy setting and we are playing a major and active role in combating Antimicrobial Resistance at community pharmacy setting. We recruited more than 2000 pharmacist to become dengue warriors when we launched the Allied Against Dengue Campaign and this year we target 5000 healthcare professionals to be dengue warriors. Nationwide anti-dengue initiatives by all stakeholders have reduced the number of dengue-related deaths from 336 in 2015 to 260 in 2016.” he said about their initiatives in the past decade.

Datuk Seri Dr. Hilmi Yahaya, Deputy Minister of Health Malaysia in his congratulatory message to MPS on their Golden Jubilee, acknowledged that MPS is also very much involved in issues that affect the profession and have on numerous occasions petitioned on topics such as the overflow of pharmacy graduates, lack of Provisionally Registered Pharmacist (PRP) placements and the proposed Pharmacy Bill.

Andrew Tan, Organizing Chairman of MPS 50th Anniversary, “This year we had close to 600 delegates sign up for the 3 days seminar and close to 1000 attendees attending the 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner. The event was a full house and it is a sign of strong support to MPS from the members and industry. Clearly the theme “My Society, My Passion” evoked strong emotions in members and pharmacists as the turnout was worthy of a 50th celebration.”

Andrew Tan who is also the Deputy President of MPS explained that MPS as the voice of the profession takes its responsibility very seriously in terms of advocating for professional rights for pharmacists, pharmacy students and Provisionally Registered Pharmacists (PRP). “Our stand on issues facing PRP’s and pharmacy undergraduates is very clear, there should be a moratorium on the application and approval of new institutions offering Pharmacy degree until the oversupply is addressed and stopped. Human resource management of pharmacists must start at the tertiary education level and not after they graduate,” he elaborated when asked about the PRP crisis.

The 3-day Seminar which started on the 12th May 2017 boasted an agglomeration of speakers from both local and international settings.

Syireen Alwi, Organizing Chairman of the MPS 50th Seminar explained that MPS was moving towards providing accredited programs for pharmacist practicing in primary healthcare as an ongoing effort to provide the public with world-class pharmacy practitioners in the community setting, who incidentally are the most accessible healthcare providers in the country.

Speaking to the reporters after the event, Amrahi said, “We are not resting on our laurels despite hitting this milestone. We are in the planning stages of initiating phase 2 of our GST petition to zero-rate GST for group X and N registered products. Our last petition garnered close to 60 thousand signatures. MPS will once again work with relevant stakeholders to expand the list of medication listed in the National Essential Medicine List (NEML). The NEML needs to more extensive as the financial strain on the public healthcare is high and will likely worsen in the years to come.”

He elaborated that MPS intends to build on the momentum that was started by the GPTP within the National Medicines Policy. “We can no longer ignore the plight of the rakyat when it comes to unrealistically high medicine prices. Malaysians deserve to have the sanctity of the public healthcare system protected. If we do not address and correct the price discrepancies of medicines in Malaysia against the International Reference Price (IRP), we will lose this privilege that we have enjoyed for so many years. The government needs to act fast and push for medicine price control as soon as possible as advocated by MyCC early this year.” he urged.

In conjunction with its 50th Anniversary, MPS will be co-hosting the Stakeholders Forum on Separation of Dispensing and Prescribing (SDP) with the Federation of Asian Pharmaceutical Associations (FAPA).

According to the National Survey on the Use of Medicines by Malaysian Consumers 2012, the findings showed that 56% of consumers do not understand the proper use of their medicines, 51% are unaware of their trade name and 56% are not aware of common side-effects.