The Israel Medical Association has appealed to the High Court of Justice to cancel the section of the new Arrangements Law that will allow licensed pharmacists to prescribe certain drugs for patients without input from physicians. The IMA says the law was passed "hurriedly" and without the necessary consideration of its "major" implications.
The section relating to pharmacists was opposed by Knesset legal adviser Nurit Elstein, who said it had nothing to do with the Budgets Law, of which the Arrangements Law is a part. The majority of the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee also opposed the passage of this section of the Arrangements Bill.
Granting medical authority to non-doctors is one of the most complicated and controversial health subjects in the world, said the IMA, because it has major implications on public health. "Prescribing drugs is the end of a process in which the doctor meets the patient, examines him, considers his condition and only afterwards recommends the suitable medication and dosage. One cannot replace [a doctor's] training of at least 12 years with the four-year training of pharmacists."
In addition, said the IMA in its brief before the High Court, pharmacists were under a lot of pressure, and it was difficult to understand how they could carry out the necessary medical follow-up.
The medical association added that, without knowing the patient's medical history, the patient could be harmed, and the new arrangement could also violate the patient's right to privacy. In a pharmacy, a customer would have to reveal personal information in front of dozens of others waiting in lines, the IMA said.
The Finance Ministry claims the law will save money and is relevant only to medications already prescribed by doctors for chronic illness.