Medicines and Related Substances Amendment Bill: finalisation

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Health

22 October 2002
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Meeting report

HEALTH PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
23 October 2002
MEDICINES AND RELATED SUBSTANCES AMENDMENT BILL: FINALISATION

Documents handed out:
Medicines and Related Substances Amendment Bill [B40-2002]

Chairperson: Mr. Ngculu (ANC)

SUMMARY
The Committee finalised and passed the Medicines and Related Substances Amendment Bill with the amendments that had been proposed.

MINUTES
The Chair acknowledged the presence of the Minister for Health, Ms Tshabalala Msimang.

Dr. Cachalia (ANC) proposed an amendment at section 22 G 8 (b) line 45 after the word 'distributors' to insert the words, " or any other person selling schedule O medicines. Members endorsed this amendment.

Ms Malumise (ANC) proposed an amendment to section 22G 8(c) line 5 after the word seize to insert the words "or distributor" to which members were agreeable.

Ms Kalyan (DP) suggested that the term 'single' at section 22 G (8)c in the principal Act be replaced with 'net price'.

Dr. Rabinowitz (IFP) however suggested that instead of net price it would read 'and or market price to avoid ambiguity.

The Chair emphasised that the end user must be in a position to know what the ceiling on the pricing was. He clarified that this was the domain of the pricing committee and that it was better left to them to take the appropriate decision.

The DG agreed with the Chair and underscored the fact that the guiding principle here was transparency and that the pricing committee would be guided by the fact that there was a need for prices to come down.

The Chair asked members not to anticipate the proceedings of the pricing committee since there were clear safeguards to check against perverse practices.

Dr. Gous (NNP) referred to section 24 (f) and asked if an appeal would go to the High Court from the Minister decision.

The legal advisor explained that an aggrieved party had an inherent right to lodge and seek for a review of the due process in a court of law but that an appeal on the merits of the technical matters would not be entertained by the High Court.

Dr. Gous strongly protested that he would not accept the position that the court had no expertise to question a technical decision taken by the Minister.

The Chair noted that there were clearly compelling reasons not to exclude the right to appeal against the Minister's decision in the Act.

Dr. Gous pointed out that the 1998 Act had expressly stated the right to appeal and sought clarification as to whether this inclusion was misconceived.

The Chair replied that the inclusion of the provision on the right to lodge an appeal to the court in the 1998 Act was wrong.

Dr. Jassat (ANC) proposed an amendment to section 28, in line 11(1)(c) line 5 after the word seize to insert the words "any book, record, or document". The amendment was passed.

Dr. Gous asked if the express inclusion of a 'magistrate' did not by necessary implication exclude the judge.

The Chair explained that members had settled on the term 'justice' because it was broader than 'magistrate'.

Dr. Tshabalala-Msimang (the Minister) (ANC) explained that the reason for the choice of a Magistrate instead of a judge was that it was the easiest and most widespread entry point into the justice system hence accessible to a wide constituency of people.

The Legal Advisor agreed with the Minister's explanation and added that it was the intention that inspectors gain immediate access to courts so that they could obtain the necessary search warrants.

Dr. Gous asked for an assurance that the Constitutionality of this provision had been examined and it was found to be sound.

The Legal advisor gave the assurance that the provision does not in any way offend the Constitution.

Ms Mnumzama (ANC) proposed an amendment to line 16 of the Long Tittle to insert the word 'distributors' after 'wholesalers' and it was duly endorsed.

The Chair suggested that the entire Bill be put to vote instead of again going through the same clause by clause. He noted that all amendments were agreeable to members save for section 22 C (b) 2(1)(a) where Ms Kalyan had proposed that the term 'in' to replace 'after' but that the general mood was that 'after' be retained.

The Chair asked Ms. Kalyan to indicate whether she had since consulted and decided to rescind her proposition.

Ms. Kalyan said she stood by her proposal.

Dr. Gous said that he would stand by his position on health professions being self -regulated but would support the Bill.

The Chair put the Bill on the table and Mrs. Malumise (ANC) proposed the vote and Dr. Gous supported and Mrs Kalyan (DP) seconded the Bill.

The Chair read the motion of desirability, which was agreed upon and passed. He read the report of the house, which was duly endorsed.

The meeting was adjourned.

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