How to ensure regulatory standards and medication safety. Online sales of prescription drugs cause concern


The State Drug Administration has officially released the "Measures for the Supervision and Administration of Online Drug Sales" (draft for comments), which sparked heated discussions on the content of the conditional liberalization of online sales of prescription drugs. The pharmaceutical e-commerce platform is rejoicing and looking forward to the dawn of policy, while the worryers questioned issues such as regulatory standards, medical insurance payments, and medication safety.


 The regulatory dilemma of "release" and "not release"


After a lapse of more than two years, the drug online sales regulations once again solicited public opinions. From November 12 to November 30, the State Food and Drug Administration publicly solicited opinions on the "Measures for the Supervision and Administration of Online Drug Sales" (Draft for Solicitation of Comments). The provisions on the sales of prescription drugs in the "Draft of Opinions" mentioned that drug retail companies use the Internet When selling prescription drugs, it is necessary to ensure that the source of electronic prescriptions is authentic and reliable, and conduct prescription adjustment review in accordance with relevant requirements, and electronically mark used prescriptions.


This "reversal" has given practitioners of the pharmaceutical e-commerce platform geared up to gain a place in the market. "Since 2014, the'gate' for online sales of prescription drugs has been'several opened and closed'. Once opened, it will be'chaotic' and then'dead'. Those who can do it today are all companies that want to do things in the industry. This consultation draft has boosted our confidence. We will definitely have development opportunities in the new round of industry standard reshuffle.” said the person in charge of an online drug sales platform.


Obvious loopholes in the pharmaceutical e-commerce platform


In the era of "everything on the Internet", online sales of prescription drugs will be the general trend, but in the lack of restraint "window period", there are many risks outside of supervision, platform management does not have a unified standard, and the phenomenon of uneven sales of prescription drugs on e-commerce platforms leads to illegal sales of prescription drugs. This phenomenon is not uncommon. Some media conducted a survey on 18 online drug shopping apps, and found that 16 of them did not comply with the regulations to display or sell prescription drugs, and the illegal sales of prescription drugs even caused tragedies. In 2018, two girls bought colchicine online. All prescription drugs of tablets died due to overdose.


And in the current relatively standardized platform, it is not "infallible." The reporter tried to buy the prescription drug amoxicillin on an e-commerce platform. The platform marked "prescription drug" on the drug display page. After placing the order, there was also an option request-confirm that the drug in the order has been taken without adverse reactions. Beside the "Submit Reservation" button, there is the words "Inquiry information needs to be added immediately after placing an order for prescription drugs".

After confirming the payment, fill in the information of the user and then enter the wait for the doctor to prescribe the prescription. After half a minute, the reporter received a call from the platform doctor asking whether to prescribe the doctor. When the reporter answered that it was not the doctor prescribing the prescription, but the online purchase of antibiotics according to the past sickness medication habits After the medicine was taken, the platform doctor refused to prescribe the prescription, the order was automatically cancelled, and the system automatically refunded it.


When the reporter placed the order for the second time, he changed a platform doctor during the inquiry session. The doctor only asked whether the drug was used before and whether there was a history of allergies. After answering “used, no allergy”, the platform doctor immediately Online prescriptions were issued. The three links of doctor prescribing, hospital pharmacist reviewing prescriptions, and pharmacy pharmacist reviewing prescriptions were completed in only eight seconds. The online pharmacy began to enter the delivery process. The reporter was not required to upload offline hospital medical information and entities throughout the process. Hospital doctor’s prescriptions and other relevant information.


Three hurdles to pass for prescription drug safety


There is also fierce public opinion on the "release" and "not release" of prescription drugs sold online. The supporter believes that for elderly patients with chronic diseases, not having to frequently go to the hospital to prescribe medicines provides more convenience, and at the same time reduces the pressure of overcrowding in outpatient clinics and poor medical experience. Netizens "a cup of warm tea" said that I support it. It is very convenient for patients like us who have to take medicine every day. You can buy prescription medicines only by uploading medical records, and you don't need to register long distances to line up.


The questioning party stated that the safety of prescription drugs is far more important than its convenience. Once the prescription drugs sold online are released, fake prescriptions will be flooded, and abused prescription drugs will seriously threaten the health of patients. Netizens "Fengfeng Fengfeng" stated that prescription drugs are relatively risky. High. Nowadays, offline pharmacies still sell prescription drugs illegally. If online sales are released, the risks are even more difficult to control.


The trade-off between convenience and safety tests the wisdom of policy makers and managers. Industry insiders say there are still three hurdles to overcome when prescription drug safety "touches the Internet".


One is the circulation of electronic prescriptions. At present, the reliability and authenticity of prescriptions are a big problem. The prescriptions issued by doctors in physical hospitals are mainly used for circulation in the hospital. Some e-commerce platform practitioners said that the circulation of e-prescriptions within the platform can be monitored through the e-prescription platform, so that e-prescriptions can be effectively supervised and the authenticity of the source of prescriptions can be ensured to a large extent.


The second is the connection with medical insurance payment. Chen Minming, a citizen of Hangzhou, said that even if prescription drugs can be sold online, ordinary people may still be willing to buy them in hospitals or pharmacies. "Medicare payment is a key factor." Xu Jing, manager of the strategic planning department of Huadong Medicine (Commercial), said that the liberalization of online prescription drug sales is more to solve the legalization problem in the gray area, and has limited impact on the stock market. The current medical insurance fund budget is linked to designated medical institutions, and a large number of prescription drugs are in the medical insurance catalog. If the prescription drug online shopping platform cannot realize online medical insurance payment, it will affect the enthusiasm of patients to use it.


The third is to implement the supervision rules. The relevant person in charge of Zhejiang Provincial Food and Drug Administration stated that the conditional liberalization of online prescription drugs can be regarded as the beginning of new drug retail. Whether it is electronic prescription sharing or prescription review, it should be under the strict supervision of regulators and must pass A sound system design does not leave room for the platform, and it must make full use of big data and other technical means to monitor the entire process.

Source: Economic Information Daily

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