Dispensing of Proprietary Products

Dispensing of Proprietary Products

Dispensing refers to the process of preparing and supplying medicines to a named person together with clear instructions, advice, and counseling where necessary on the use of those medicines. It involves the correct interpretation of the order for prescribed medicines and accurate preparation and labeling of medicines for use by the patient. 

Good Dispensing Practice ensures that the right medicines of desired quality are delivered correctly to the right patient with the right dose, strength, frequency, dosage form, and quantity, together with clear instructions, both written and verbal, and with appropriate packaging suitable for maintaining the quality and efficacy of the medicine. 

Adherence to good dispensing procedures is vital in ensuring that medicines are dispensed correctly and any potential/real errors which may occur during the dispensing process are detected and rectified before medicines reach the patient.

Processing the Prescription 


• On receiving a prescription, it should be screened and validated to ensure that it is for the correct patient and it complies with the requirements in the Poisons Act. 

• The prescription should be written legibly or printed. 

Interpreting the Prescription Order: The person receiving the prescription should check for: 

• Dose, frequency, and duration. 

• Drug interactions, medicine duplication, polypharmacy, inappropriate drug therapy, contra-indications. 

• Allergies. 

• Unusual usage and suspected drug misuse or abuse. 

• For partial medicine supply, ensure that the second or subsequent supply does not exceed the quantity for the duration prescribed. 

Handling Prescriptions which Require Clarification: 

• If an incomplete prescription or one which requires further clarification is received, attempts must always be made to contact the prescriber. 

• If the prescriber can be contacted and is available on site, arrange for the incomplete/missing details to be inserted on the prescription by the prescriber. 

• Remedial action for such prescriptions should be discussed with the prescriber before sending the prescription back to him/her. 

• If the prescriber is not available to amend the prescription himself/herself, authorization to make the change may be obtained verbally through the phone. 

• If the prescriber cannot be contacted, the patient should be informed and the prescription must be sent back to the prescriber with information on the clarification/action needed. 

• Prescriber should document any changes made to the patient’s medical record. 

Preparing the Medicines 

Selecting the Medicines: 

• When selecting the medicine to be dispensed, prevent any medication errors by establishing an appropriate system to ensure that the correct medicine is selected, especially if there are medicines with similar names and packaging. 

• Pick the medicine by reading the label at least twice and cross-checking the medicine name and strength against the prescription. 

• If a barcode system is available, it should be used to enable the correct and accurate election of the medicine. 

• Check the expiry date of dispensed medicines to ensure that they remain unexpired for the duration of the supply course.

• Medicines should be dispensed in the original packaging as far as possible. 

• Tablets/capsules should not be removed from the strip/blister when dispensing. 

• Bulk loss packs for supply are not encouraged. 

• Avoid direct contact with the hand if loose packs are to be used. 

• Medicines that need to be packed such as loose capsules/tablets should be packed into a clean, dry container, such as; a bottle or plastic envelope which will not compromise the quality of the product after dispensing. 


• Counter-checking should be done by a second person, other than the staff who did the previous filling and labeling tasks. 

• Check all the medicines prepared for dispensing against the prescription. 

• Once the counter-checking is done, the person performing this task should initial on the prescription.



• Proper record keeping is an essential part of dispensing as it facilitates good management and monitoring of services provided. Such records can be used to verify the stocks used in dispensing and will be required if a need arises to trace patients dispensed with a particular medicine. 

Issuing Medicines to the Patient 

• Issuing or supply of medicine should only be done by a registered pharmacist. 

• When dispensing the medicines, ensure the 5 R’s.: 

  • Right Patient 
  • Right Medicine 
  • Right Dose 
  • Right Route 
  • Right Time 

• Ask about allergies or known adverse drug reactions (ADR). 

• Give clear instructions and proper advice on how to take/ use the medicines dispensed. 

• Ensure the patient is made aware if there are special requirements during transportation, proper storage conditions, and usage requirements for the medicines. 

Medication Counseling 

• Where necessary, provide medication counseling to patients to ensure proper use of medicines dispensed. 

• It is encouraged to counsel patients with chronic diseases on multiple medications. 

• Maintain records of the counseling done.

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