PETALING JAYA - The system of dispensing medication differs across the world.
In Malaysia, doctors and pharmacists have the right to dispense medicine, as is the case in Singapore and China.
Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) chief pharmacist Datuk Faridah Md Yusof said Malaysia and Singapore did not practise the dispensing separation system.
"We allow both doctors and pharmacists to dispense medication," she said.
She added that with patients getting drugs from clinics and hospitals, few retail pharmacies were set up in Malaysia and Singapore.
Faridah said many other countries practised the dispensing separation system, under which the physician prescribing the medicine is independent of the pharmacist providing the drug.
"If you go to a country where the dispensing separation system is used, there are many retail pharmacies and clinics operating side by side for patients to buy medicines," she added.
This system is used in Thailand, Indonesia, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
In some rural areas in Britain, doctors are allowed to prescribe and dispense prescription-only medicines to their patients.
This regulation also exists in Austria for general physicians if the nearest pharmacy is more than 4km away, or where none is registered in the city.
Faridah said the hope was that some day, the dispensing separation system will be introduced in Malaysia too.
She said this would offer patients the freedom to choose from the many brands when buying drugs at pharmacies.