The inventories of 7,700 drugstores across Ho Chi Minh City will be managed via an online network in 2019, as part of authorities’ efforts to closely monitor the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine.
The southern Vietnamese metropolis is set to realize a plan that was previously proposed by the Ministry of Health in late August.
This will be the latest measure to be taken by the health ministry in a bid to tighten its management of non-prescription medicine.
According to Do Van Dung, an official of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health, nearly 700 pharmacies are already linked to the network.
The rest of the city’s 7,700 drugstores are expected to be connected by the beginning of 2019, Dung added.
Through the city’s new software program, all drugstores in the network will be linked to and managed by the Ministry of Health, the municipal Department of Health, and district-level health offices, the official continued.
Developed and operated by the military-run Viettel telecom group, the program will allow health officials to access all information of each pharmacy regarding the origins of their medicine, and the purchase and sale information of each type of drug.
“We hope to eventually end the sale of non-prescription antibiotics in the city,” Dung remarked.
The program can also act as a helpful tool for drugstore owners to monitor their business operations, keep track of their inventory and medicine expiration dates, and calculate their revenues, losses, as well as profits, he added.
It is also a channel for local drugstores and authorities to communicate and exchange information.
|Medicine is being sold at a store on Hai Ba Trung Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
In order to join the network, each drugstore will be required to pay the operator approximately VND1.8 million ($77) a year.
If a store is not linked to the program by early 2020, it will be shut down according to regulations, Dung stated.
While most drugstore owners in the city have showed their support for the plan, some have voiced their concern over possible issues that can affect their business activities.
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters conducted a brief survey at ten local pharmacies, and most of the owners were worried about the service fee they will have to pay the network operator.
According to Nguyen Van Khuon, a health official in Thu Duc District, the operator wants to sign a yearly contract with local drugstores.
Some small-scale businesses, however, would prefer to pay the fee on a monthly basis, Khuon explained.
L.C.B., a pharmacist in District 9, said he would have to hire a new employee just to update the necessary information to the program.
Another drugstore owner voiced concerns that the program will not be able to manage unlicensed facilities, which compromises the transparency and fairness of the plan.