The pharmaceutical company can lead in providing information on halal pharmaceuticals
THE IMPORTANCE of halal is becoming more relevant to us now; don’t you agree? People are demanding for halal food, halal financial services, halal cosmetics, and
even halal health products. We are even looking forward to a halal-certified Covid-19 vaccine.
While many are preferring halal products, some especially the non-Muslims are still not understanding the actual concept of halal. ‘Halal’ is more understood as a religious concept than a lifestyle concept.
Having a clear insight on ‘halal’ and ‘halal pharmaceuticals’ is exceedingly vital notably among medical professionals and also the patients or consumers. This is to ensure professionals such as doctors and pharmacists can provide the right information and consumers, on the other hand, can make the right choice of medication.
According to a pharmacist from Well-On Pharmacy Sdn Bhd, Santhanathan Rajendran: “In terms of knowledge on halal pharmaceuticals and expertise on the concept behind the halal logo for the pharmacists, I don’t think there is enough especially for the non-Muslims.
“Unless they attend training. There is less dissemination of information. Pharmacists don’t have enough background information,” said Santhanathan.
Muslim pharmacists will not have many issues on understanding the halal concept as compared to non-Muslims. He believed, there is a misconception among customers where they thought ‘halal’ products are only for Muslims.
“To break the misconception, the dissemination of information on halal pharmaceuticals is essential. And the right organisation to do this will be companies like Duopharma Biotech Bhd since it is currently at best-positioned in the pharmaceutical industry,
“After I went to a training conducted by Duopharma, I became more aware of what constitutes halal such as the process and the importance,” he justified.
As more information is shared, there will be less misconception. It will also help the pharmacists become better pharmacists and thus help the public to make a better choice of medications.
Are pharmacists aware of halal?
In terms of awareness, pharmacists are more aware of halal pharmaceutical products as there are times where they need to deal with Muslim customers.
Santhanathan said: “When we encounter a Muslim customer, automatically our priority is that we have to show them the halal product.
“If there are no other suggestions for halal products, then we have to show them ones without a halal logo. As long as there is no porcine (pig),” he said.
Either way, pharmacists hold their integrity by being truthful to customers when it comes to pharmaceutical products which are authorised halal by an international authority instead of the local authority. Customers will be provided with all the information there is to know, and at the end, pharmacists will leave them to decide.
It is not a matter of selling the product. It is more about providing the right information to make a choice.
Because there is less dissemination of information on halal, pharmacists are very much dependent on the presence of halal logo on a product.
“The halal logo itself is crucial. I can confidently recommend products with a halal logo to customers. It cannot go wrong.
“For me, it is based on the logo on the bottle. The halal logo is the standard. However, we will request for an authorisation letter for products with no JAKIM halal log,” he added.
Are substitutes for halal products available?
So, if a specific halal medication requested by the customer is not available, are substitute products easily obtainable? The answer is “only a few” said Santhanathan.
“Choices of substitutes would be available for the essential medicines such as for diarrhoea, cough and cold.
“Substitutes, especially for originated drugs, are not easily available for patients. Only for supplements are available, but not drugs.”
Knowing which is a halal prescribed drug is a little bit more complicated. Supplements are much easier to recommend as the product comes with a halal logo.
As pharmacists, they also hold the responsibility to follow exactly the medications prescribed by the doctor.
“Pharmacists cannot suggest any
substitute products to customers. If the patient insists on having a halal-based product, we will ask them to refer back to the doctor to see if there is any other choice,” he clarified.
At the end of the day, pharmacists can only suggest a range of medicines and making the decision would be in the hands of customers. But customers would want to make the ‘right’ decision. Therefore, they need to be well-informed.