FDA allows e-prescriptions for select patients during Luzon quarantine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 18) — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday allowed electronic prescriptions for individuals vulnerable to COVID-19 during the Luzon-wide quarantine period.

Citing challenges posed by the pandemic, FDA has authorized licensed physicians to issue e-prescriptions to select individuals via email, Messenger, Viber, or other modes considered electronic document, in place of a written prescription.

This alternative would make sure of continuous access to prescription and maintenance drugs of senior citizens, persons with disability (PWDs), with chronic illness or those with low immunity.

“A large percentage of recorded fatalities came from this group of individuals, hence the need for them to stay indoors and to avoid unnecessary contact with others,” read the FDA circular titled Guidelines in the Implementation of the Use of Electronic Means of Prescription for Drugs for the Benefits of Individuals Vulnerable to Covid-19.

For an e-prescription to be valid, it must contain the patient’s complete name, name of medicines and/or drug prescribed, dosage, doctor’s signature, doctor’s license number, and if applicable, the doctor’s professional tax receipt.

The adopted measure also requires drugstores, pharmacies, and similar outlets to honor e-prescriptions.

All drug-dispensing establishments shall not require physical presence of person vulnerable to COVID-19 before dispensing drugs. An authorized representative may purchase the drugs on their behalf, FDA said.

For senior citizen or PWD patients, a representative must bring a letter of authorization signed by the concerned individual along with an identification card of the senior citizen or PWD.

A separate e-prescription is required, however, for all antibiotics, anti-infectives, and/or anti-viral preparations. Prescriptions shall be valid for one week after issuance.

“Kahit may kasalukuyan tayong mga hamong pangkalusugan, hindi natin hahayaan na mawalan ang ating mga pasyente ng paraan na makabili at makakuha ng kanilang mga gamot,” FDA Director General Eric Domingo said. [Translation: Even if we’re in the middle of a public health crisis, we will ensure that our patients are still able to purchase and obtain their medicines.]

He added that drug-dispensing establishments shall be responsible in checking the legitimacy of e-prescriptions.

According to the circular, the measure shall be automatically lifted once the quarantine ends.

“Hindi nito layunin na palitan ang nararapat na pagkonsulta sa doktor, standard na pagbibigay ng reseta, at pagbenta ng mga gamot, sa halip nais natin na masiguro ang pagpapaabot ng mga mahahalagang gamot sa ating mga pasyente,” Domingo said. [Translation: Thid does not do away with the required doctor consultation, standard of issuing a precription, and sale of drugs. Instead, we would like to make sure patients will have access to important drugs.]

President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Monday an enhanced community quarantine, further restricting movement in the entire island group of Luzon. Residents are directed to stay on home quarantine while mass transportation has been suspended.

There are at least 202 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country with 1 deaths as of March 18. Ten patients have recovered.