Tuesday, June 28

Liberalization of schedules and ‘telemedicines’, this will be the new Madrid Pharmacy Law


MADRID

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The third time lucky. That is what they should think of the PP, where the Madrid regional government has just revived the project of new Pharmacy Law and begins its processing to see if he can get it out now. It contains the principles that inspired the previous ones, such as the flexibilization of schedules -with a fixed section in which all must open- and the home dispensing, collecting in this case the experience lived during the pandemic.

The first time an attempt was made to approve the Pharmacies Law was in 2018. There was a text already prepared, but at the last moment, Ciudadanos joined their votes with PSOE and Podemos against the rule, which was overthrown in the Assembly. In the last legislature, Isabel Díaz Ayuso tried to reactivate it, but the early calling of the elections did not even allow time to remove the draft from the drawer.

Transparency Portal

The new regulation is now in a third phase: the preliminary draft of the law has just been published on the Transparency Portal of the Community of Madrid. Now it is carried out by urgent processing, with the intention of completing the deadlines during the current legislature, which ends in 2023.

One of its strengths is the flexible hours, which is guaranteed by including in the text the obligation to comply with a fixed opening window that will be the same for all pharmacy offices. That will mean having to be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., from Monday to Friday, and on Saturdays only in the morning shift. Outside of it, they may establish the opening and closing hours they deem appropriate, as long as they comply with that time frame and with a minimum of 40 weekly hours of opening. The opening 24 hours a day and 365 days a year is also authorized.

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The new normative text includes the particularities of the small municipalities in the rural environment. And that is why he argues that in towns with less than 2,000 inhabitants, the schedule may be adapted to the circumstances of the place, to adapt health care to the needs of the population.

Another issue that appears, and that gave rise to controversy in the previous proceedings of the law, is the one related to the delivery service of medicines at home. This dispensing from the pharmacy to the home was used during the pandemic with great success. Although in its day other professional associations, especially the nursing one, opposed this because they considered it an invasion of their competences, the norm includes it again.

Qualified professionals

Moreover, if the previous text spoke of the possibility of this dispensing at home in the case of disabled people or elderly dependents, now it is becoming more general, taking into account the good results that it has given in practice during the pandemic. In this way, they ensure in the regional government, «Quality is guaranteed throughout the entire process administration of drugs, in pharmacies or at home, by qualified professionals.

In addition, the law insists on the need to “strengthen patient adherence to prescribed treatment”, and for this “personal dosage systems are regulated, with special emphasis on chronic, polymedicated and dependent patients».

The heads of the Ministry of Health, headed by Enrique Ruiz Escudero, defend the need to renew the law – since the current one is from 1998 – to adapt this service to the needs of citizens and pharmacists “in the society of the 21st century.”

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Beyond these measures, the new Pharmacy Law also contemplates improvements and facilities in the systems so that citizens deposit expired or unused medications in pharmacies. And it plans to expand the nutrition and dietetics sections in pharmacies, giving them greater flexibility and thereby helping to stimulate the economy in this sector.

The law also regulates the signage and advertising of pharmacy offices.

For the preparation of this preliminary draft, the regional government ensures that meetings have been held with the Official College of Pharmacists of Madrid (COFM), the Business Federation of Spanish Pharmacists (FEFE), the Association of Pharmaceutical Entrepreneurs of Madrid (ADEFARMA) and the General Council of Official Colleges of Pharmacists, among others. In order, they argue, of “Collect the different sensitivities of the sector” in the legal text.

After going through the public hearing process, in which the allegations considered by citizens and entities will be presented, it will be approved by the Governing Council, and from there it will be transferred to the Assembly where it will be debated and voted on.

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