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Coopharma asks Health Dept. to evaluate medicinal cannabis regulations

By on September 5, 2016

Screengrab from http://www.coopharma.coop/

(Screengrab from www.coopharma.coop)

SAN JUAN – Elda Sierra, chairwoman of the Puerto Rican Pharmacy Cooperative (Coopharma by its Spanish acronym), and one of its affiliates, pharmacy owner Dr. Mariela Vázquez, requested Monday that the Health Department evaluate the proposed regulations for the use, manufacture and distribution of medical cannabis.

The request came about because of what they consider “serious deficiencies” in the current regulations, particularly in the area of dispensing the drug.

“We believe the dispensing of cannabis, as explained in the regulations, merits further discussion and participation by service providers and healthcare facilities, as the way it is drafted could constitute a violation of the Pharmacy Act,” Sierra explained.

“It is imperative that professional pharmaceutical personnel be taken into account to dispense medicinal cannabis, which is classified as a controlled drug,” Vázquez added in the statement.

According to an evaluation of this regulation by Coopharma, it does not address certain issues of great importance for the more than 470 community pharmacies this cooperative represents and the thousands of patients who require the use of medicinal cannabis.

The co-op’s spokespeople stressed that the “dispensary agent” mentioned in the regulation, does not specify it should be a pharmacist who authorizes or dispenses the cannabis, and doesn’t include that a pharmaceutical professional, who is authorized by law, educate the patient.

Instead, it gives anyone authority to do so.

“Puerto Rico is creating a historical precedent in terms of violations to the Pharmacy Act by explicitly granting powers to another sector in a regulation created by the government itself. In short, the government would be violating its own pharmacy law,” Vázquez said.

The co-op president added that “the patient should be offered the guarantee that professionals and technical personnel, under the direct supervision of a pharmacist, be who dispenses the medicine. Laws and regulations already address this matter, which means only minor amendments would be needed.

“We publicly denounce and state for the record that these actions endorsed by the Department of Health would endanger the public health and safety of many patients with debilitating conditions and would create a precedent by granting authority to a sector that does not have the preparation of a pharmacist,” Sierra said.

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