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Dispensing doctors and prescribing pharmacists: A South African perspective


  • Gilbert, Leah


Adopting an historical and international perspective, this article explores and analyses the relationship and controversy between pharmacists and dispensing doctors in South Africa. In order to gain a better insight into this troublesome relationship, a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods has been employed. The findings reveal a deep ongoing sense of competition, which is manifest in the form of public debate and continuous attempts to protect professional task domains. Most of the pharmacists interviewed in this study mentioned the "dispensing doctor" as the main problem facing the community pharmacist in South Africa. Meanwhile, the medical profession, as a united front, is fiercely protecting its "inherent" right to dispense medicines. Using the South African scenario, issues such as occupational task boundaries, "business" versus "professional" systems as well as the role of the state are discussed in relation to professional dominance, jurisdiction and autonomy.

Suggested Citation

  • Gilbert, Leah, 1998. "Dispensing doctors and prescribing pharmacists: A South African perspective," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 83-95, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:46:y:1998:i:1:p:83-95

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Halkos, George, 1993. "Economic incentives for optimal sulphur abatement in Europe," MPRA Paper 33705, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Ger Klaassen & David Pearce, 1995. "Introduction," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(2), pages 85-93, March.
    3. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1, January.
    4. Tietenberg, T H, 1990. "Economic Instruments for Environmental Regulation," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 17-33, Spring.
    5. Halkos, George E., 1993. "Sulphur abatement policy: Implications of cost differentials," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(10), pages 1035-1043, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lim, David & Emery, Jon & Lewis, Janice & Sunderland, V Bruce, 2009. "A systematic review of the literature comparing the practices of dispensing and non-dispensing doctors," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 1-9, September.
    2. Williams, Kevin Frank, 2007. "Re-examining 'professionalism' in pharmacy: A South African perspective," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(6), pages 1285-1296, March.
    3. Filippini, M. & Heimsch, F. & Masiero, G., 2014. "Antibiotic consumption and the role of dispensing physicians," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 242-251.


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