In Malaysia, general practitioners (GPs) in private clinics are legally permitted to dispense medicines.Aim:
To compare the dispensing practices of community pharmacists and GPs in private clinics.Method:
Simulated patients trained in common cold symptoms presented to GPs and community pharmacists in Penang, Malaysia. They observed their dispensing practices and recorded the number, category and cost of medicines dispensed and whether generic or brand name medicines were selected.Results:
Based on descriptive and inferential analyses, GPs dispensed more medicines (p < 0.001), more antibiotics (p = 0.001) and charged more than pharmacists (p < 0.001). From the 40 GP and 100 community pharmacist encounters, the mean number of medicines per encounter were 3.3 (± 0.9) and 2.6 (± 1.1) from clinics and pharmacies, respectively. Average medical costs were RM19.02 (± 5.70) at clinics versus RM14.35 (± 2.76) at pharmacies. Pharmacists (n = 11, 11%) were more likely to promote brand name medicines than GPs (p = 0.014).Conclusion:
Community pharmacists dispensed fewer medicines and antibiotics and charged less than GPs to simulated patients presenting with common cold symptoms.