E-DRUG: Compounding and dispensing problems in Indonesia

SOURCE : http://purnamawati.wordpress.com/

I am a pediatrician (gastrohepatologist) and since 2002 I have been working in community health care, promoting the rational use of medicine, in particular in pediatrics. I am concerned about overmedicalization in pediatric practice. For upper respiratory tract infections, Indonesian pediatricians frequently prescribe an antibiotic plus a mixture of pseudoephedrin/ephedrin, antihistamin, mucolytic, triamnicolone, phenobarb, and other drugs (called “puyer”, after the Dutch word for “powder”).

The ingredients are put in a bowl, crushed and the resulting powder is divided into equal parts in small sachets (usually 15 sachets to be used over the course of 5 days). Some pediatricians add this “puyer” to a syrup (e.g. thyme syrup and even ranitidine or amoxycillin syrups)

One example of a puyer prescription:

A 15 month old girl with fever and coryza was given:

1. SYRUP: Bufect (Ibuprophen) 60 ml


* Nalgestan (PPA 15 mg, chlorpheniramine maletae 2 mg)
* Luminal (phenobarbitone) 50 mg – 6 tablet
* Mucohexin 8 mg – 10 tablet
* Kenacort (trianicolone) 4 mg – 10 tablet
* Codein 20 mg – 3 tab
* Lasal (salbutamol) 4 mg – 4 tablet
* Etaphylline 250 mg – 3 tablet
* Equal neo tablet refill


* Lapicef (cefadroxil) 500 mg/ capsul – 4 capsul
* Equal


* Curvit emulsion 175 ml


* Pankreoflat – 10 tablet
* Cobazym 1000 mcg – 10 tablet
* Heptasan (cyproheptadine) – 10 tablet
* Lysagor (Pizotifen, here used as an appetite stimulant) – 10 tablet
* Equal

I am conducting two studies, of which the first one is finished and I am writing out the results. I found:

1. Poly pharmacy (median number of drugs per prescription for URIs is 5)
2. Overuse of antibiotics
3. Overuse of steroids (branded trianicolone)
4. Symptomatic prescribing
5. Prescriptions of supplements, herbal, multivitamin, “appetite stimulants”
6. Brand name prescribing

I have been trying to change this practice since 1996, but met with strong resistance from my colleagues who believe that a “puyer” is good for Indonesians. Other stated reasons are that the “puyer” is cheap.

I said that prescriptions for URI is very expensive; always more than a day wage
(in Indonesia medicines are mainly paid out of pocket). Second, does a child really
need so many medicines?

I have educated parents on rational use, giving the message to avoid “puyers”.
We tell parents to count the number of lines in the prescription … if more than two lines,
do not buy it: call us. However, many parents reported back that doctors became upset with them. Doctors said they are giving the best for the children by prescribing a “puyer.”

In summary, despite my work to educate health consumers (mailing list, web, parenting classes, radio talk shows, publications, and studies of prescribing pattern, children continue to be given inappropriate “puyers”.

I am finalizing my study report, and I am asked by my overseas colleagues to look for information on similar practices in other countries.
I want to ask you whether this practice exists in other countries; how providers can be convinced that such practice is not recommended; and what are the potential problems from a pharmacological and pharmacotherapeutic point of view?
I really need scientific bases to argue about such practice, and I hope you can help me.


Purnamawati Pujiarto (Wati)



2 thoughts on “E-DRUG: Compounding and dispensing problems in Indonesia

  1. Dear Dr.Wati,
    I am pharmacist.
    It is a very interesting topic to discuss.
    There are 2 matters to consider:
    a.The Indonesia doctor customs along > 40 years up to now
    b.The development of the pharmaceutical technology within 40 years now
    c.The changing profession liability and the evolving pharmaceutical science
    We currently encountering the phenomenon of the “profession medical culture” against the changing of the “profession science”

    Do you have a special space to discuss ?
    I will be happy to have your comments about my inquiry.
    I am studying this issues and should make a report soon.
    I look forward to have your further communication.

    Best regards,


  2. I have been practicing medicine for more than 30 years, aalthough at present I do more hospital managerial duties.
    I am 100 % concur with Dr. Wati’s stand point, and due to those I faced enmity and ridicule from seniors in medicine.
    Back in 2005 I was asked by a team of lecturer from a reputable University ( and with whom my hospital have a cooperation agreement). the question was why did I forbid the practice of compounding drugs in my Hospital. I answered that because compounding are :
    1. irrational
    2. no study has ever been done (and published) about physical or chemical interaction between compounded drugs in the mixing bowl.
    3. Usually the individual drug being compounded has its own half life within human body, hence we would not be able to determine how would we space the dosing every 6 hours? every 8 hours? every 12 hours? etc.
    4. no study has ever been published about interactions of those multi drugs within human body
    5. In case an untoward effect happens, which component of the mixture should we blame?
    6. Compounding are very time consuming for our pharmacy staff
    7. Increase the tendency of practitioners to prescribe polypharmacy ( one pill for every ill)

    You know what their comment were? the essence of the commentys were:
    1. Who are you? just a humble anesthesiologist-intensivist from a remote small hospital trying to give lecture to a group of Professors?
    2. Compounding is practiced for years, but “no negative effect ” ever happens

    Unfortunately our previous minister of health also defended the practice of compounding drugs ( ” I used to take compounded drugs when I was kid, and look at me now, a minister of Health”)

    But I am happy that my younger colleagues in my hospital are taking the same view as dr.Wati regarding rationality of prescribing and drug compounding.

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