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Doc pitches free access to e-prescriptions

Published:Thursday | April 2, 2020 | 12:19 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

A Jamaican doctor is appealing to Prime Minister Andrew Holness to allow for the temporary use of an Internet-based platform for the dispensing of prescriptions.

Managing director of DigiScripts, Dr Leslie Samuels, believes that the technology could be quite useful in the current context of social distancing.

Jamaica has been working to contain the spread of COVID-19 since recording its first case on March 10.

Samuels is desirous of offering the service to all physicians and pharmacies in Jamaica free of cost for the duration of the COVID-19 health crisis.

“We have been petitioning for permission for the last five years,” he told The Gleaner in an interview on Tuesday.

“DigiScripts is compliant with all local laws and international guidelines. Furthermore, the Disaster Risk Management Act of 2015, which you invoked two weeks ago after declaring Jamaica a disaster zone, was specifically designed to make new provisions for the management and mitigation of disaster, the reduction of risks associated with the disaster, and for connected matters,” a section of the March 28 open letter to Holness read.

Limiting the number of customers in establishments is one of the major regimes that have been activated.

Pharmacists or pharmacy staff can contact the patient and let them know that the medication is ready for pickup, the doctor told The Gleaner.

“At that point, the patient can walk into the pharmacy, collect,and pay, and they would be in and out in five or 10 minutes as opposed to 35 minutes, which is the typical wait time at the end of the month,” he explained.


Samuels added that it could also be used to coordinate the delivery of medications to people who are at risk of contracting the virus or those in quarantine.

“Electronic prescribing is a standard of care in the First World. We are not recreating the wheel. We are simply trying to elevate the practice of medicine locally,” he said.

Samuels said that the Pharmacy Council of Jamaica has had concerns about prescription fraud in the last few years.

“Electronic prescribing should reduce the rate of fraud below what is the current standard,” he said.

In a letter dated March 24, 2020, a copy of which The Gleaner has seen, the council wrote that it “has not granted permission for electronic prescribing in Jamaica”.

The council noted that it is cognisant of the importance of social distancing but said that the provision of pharmaceutical care “cannot in any way be compromised”.