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Cablegate: Singapore Amends Pharmacists Registration Act

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGP #1844 2770256
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 040256Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4158
INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC

UNCLAS SINGAPORE 001844

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE PASS USTR FOR AUSTR WEISEL AND DAUSTR DBELL
COMMERCE FOR JBAKER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINV ETRD KIPR ECON SN
SUBJECT: SINGAPORE AMENDS PHARMACISTS REGISTRATION ACT

1. (U) Singapore's practice of allowing physicians to both dispense
and prescribe pharmaceuticals remains unchanged in spite of recently
approved modifications to the Pharmacists Registration Act. The
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has
consistently opposed Singapore's system. In comments submitted as
part of the 2007 Special 301 Review, PhRMA argued that Singapore's
system can lead to inefficiencies and conflicts of interest.

2. (U) Minister of Health KHAW Boon Wan defended the current scheme
under questioning during a September 20 session of Parliament. He
cited convenience and physicians' ability to offset consultation
fees by selling pharmaceuticals as benefits in support of the
practice. Editorials in the Straits Times newspaper, which has
close ties to the government, echoed support for the status quo. In
Asia, economies such as China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, as well
as Singapore, allow physicians to prescribe and dispense, while
Japan and Korea disallow it.

3. (U) The revised legislation introduces four principal changes:

--Mandatory continuing education requirements;

--Creation of three categories for registration -- Full,
Conditional, and Temporary -- in order to speed up the employment
process for foreign-trained pharmacists;

--A Specialists Register, which will aim to encourage more
pharmacists to take up advanced training in specialty areas; and

--Creation of the Singapore Pharmacy Council (to replace the
Singapore Pharmacy Board), which will administer the new provisions
as a statutory board under the Ministry of Health.

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