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Vietnam cracks down on drugstores selling without prescriptions

Thousands of pharmacies might lose their licenses for failing to comply with new regulation on controlling medicine sales.

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vietnam cracks down on drugstores selling without prescriptions hinh 0
The Ministry of Health has ordered that all drugstores should be connected to the national medicine database via the Internet. Photo by Shutterstock/I Viewfinder
The Ministry of Health has ordered that all drugstores should be connected to the national medicine database via the Internet by Monday, a move aimed at preventing the sales of drugs without prescription.

But in Ho Chi Minh City, which has the highest number of pharmacies in the country at over 6,000, only 61 percent have linked up, according to the city Department of Health. In Hanoi, 90 percent of its over 4,600 drugstores have done so.

Many pharmacy owners said they do not have a computer or Internet. Tran Thi Nhi Ha, deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Health, said the regulation requires pharmacies to invest in infrastructure and this takes time.

Tang Chi Thuong, her HCMC counterpart, said inspectors would soon carry out checks to ensure compliance. "Licenses will be taken away from pharmacies that continue to disobey."

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Most pharmacies in Vietnam sell drugs without prescriptions. In fact, around 88 percent of all antibiotics sold in urban areas are without prescriptions while the rate is 91 percent in the countryside, the health ministry said.

The World Health Organization has listed Vietnam among the list of countries with the highest rate of antibiotic-resistant infections, with 33 percent of all patients suffering from them. 

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