1Care Monopoly? Dubious reporting by the Malay Mail
The Malay Mail claims in a report the possibility of a 1Care Monopoly
Only accredited pharmacies can dispense medicines under proposed scheme, sparking fears of higher healthcare costs
MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2012 – 16:54
by Terence Fernandez and Meena Lakshana
PETALING JAYA: The 1Care national healthcare scheme (1Care for 1Malaysia) will see “preferred” pharmacies appointed to dispense medicine.
Under the proposed scheme, general practitioners will prescribe medication and patients will have to buy them from accredited pharmacies.
The Malay Mail understands that a pharmaceutical chain and a multi-level marketing giant are in talks to obtain what critics say is a monopoly on the dispensation of prescription drugs, which may lead to costlier medications.
According to the policy, concept paper prepared by the Health Ministry, a Primary Health Care Trust (PHCT) will acquire healthcare services from pharmacies and dentists, among others.
“They oversee and purchase healthcare services from independent contractors (primary care providers/contractors), dentists and pharmacies.
“They also commission services from secondary or tertiary care providers such as hospital services, emergency services, etc,” according to the concept paper.
We have issues with this sort of reporting. Firstly, the Malay Mail did not cite the source for the allegation that “preferred” pharmacies will be appointed to dispense medicine. We would be curious if the Malay Mail can back up this allegation otherwise we suggest you take this report with a large pinch of salt. Moreover, the paper also quoted Dr. SC Ng on a number of items including the ridiculous suggestion that Dr. Ng “sits on the panel that drafted the concept paper”. The 1Care concept paper is entirely from the Ministry of Health and Dr. Ng is not with the MOH, rather he is representing the FPMPAM.
In a thread on 1Care in Dobbs, the Malaysian Doctors Forum, Dr. Ng says the report was based on an interview conducted in March 2012 and he was badly misquoted. He has written to the Malay Mail reporter and is awaiting retraction/correction. In the meantime we reproduce Dr. Ng’s message to the reporter:
I have just read your article in the Malay Mail today, on 1Care, entitled 1Care monopoly.
The whole article is full of inaccuracies. Some of the data quoted is probably not true.
However, those are minor compared to two major blunders that you wrote, viz,
1. You said that I claim that I am a member of the panel that drafted the concept paper. THAT IS COMPLETELY UNTRUE. At no time in our interview did I even hint of that. In fact, I am completely opposed to the concept paper. The concept paper is drafted and written by the staff of the Ministry of Health, as stated in the front page. I am in private practice and have no part in drafting, formulating or writing the concept paper.
2. We never discuss anything about using any ” Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pencen”. I am not sure where you got that fact from. It certainly is not from me.
I am not sure how, but I do wish that you will correct the errors. Please, in the interest of truths. You have put me in very bad light and in a way, put me into dis-repute. The MOH and my association, will be very cross with me.
I suppose the lesson that I learn is not to trust reporters and always insist on reading the final write-up before allow to be quoted. I asked you repeated to quote me accurately, and you surely did not. I trusted you and you failed me.
With deep regret.
Dr SC Ng
On the issue of the concept paper on 1Care, it is just a concept. The official stance is that nothing has been decided – which is probably true. However one also wonders if the concept might have materialised into reality had there not been all the publicity brought up by the TakNak1Care initiative. Whatever the Malay Mail reported, I certainly hope the notion that there may be a monopoly on which pharmacies can dispense under 1Care (or whatever the MOH chooses to call it) reimbursement is not true.