FDA prescribes legible writing for doctors


While it is a given that most doctors write illegible prescriptions often seen as a ‘code’ that can be deciphered only by pharmacists, the Maharashtra Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has decided that enough is enough. Doctors will not only have to write legibly but also a complete detailed prescription to ensure that there is no chance of wrong treatment leading to death.

In a move to lessen chances of compromise in patient safety owing to incorrectly written or interpreted prescriptions, the Maharashtra FDA recently constituted an 11-member executive committee for formulating specific guidelines for Rx or prescription of drugs.

The committee is presided over by FDA commissioner Mahesh Zagade with assistant commissioner (drugs) DR Gahane as member secretary besides representatives from Maharashtra Medical Council, Maharashtra Council of Indian Medicines, veterinary council and dental council, Indian Medical Association, State Pharmacy Council and Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA).

Gahane said the committee’s main agenda is to frame a set of legal requirements to highlight the way in which prescriptions should be issued by doctors in accordance with the provisions of the existing law.

“We would prepare a model prescription format. The prescription should be legible, mentioned correct dosage, strength, duration and alternatives. Most of this features are already mentioned in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. We plan to strengthen the provisions by bringing in better clarity through guidelines,” said Gahane.

He added that if all goes according to plan, the committee plans to finalise the guidelines within three to four months.
The state drug regulator has formed the expert committee after observing an alarming rise in incidents which indicated that the prescriptions rarely comply with the rules as required leading to either inappropriate use of medications or overuse of antibiotics harming patient’s health.

Manjiri Gharat, president, community pharmacy division of IPA said frequently prescriptions are found to be incomplete, like omission of medicine strength, dosage instructions or duration of using the drug.

“Many prescriptions are illegible making it difficult to understand them. Many brands that have very similar names making interpretation for pharmacists tougher. This can lead to errors in dispensing medicines compromising patient safety. The FDA’s effort will bring uniformity in writing prescriptions across the state,” she said.

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