Pharmacists Slam ‘Foreign Intervention’ Over Mandatory Prescriptions Bill

The Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society considers the Commonwealth Medical Association’s criticism of the Poisons Bill as a violation of Malaysia’s honour.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 – Pharmacists’ group Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) has criticised a commonwealth doctors’ group for calling for the withdrawal of legal amendments enforcing medicine prescriptions upon request.

The Poisons (Amendment) 2019 Bill, which has received the support of MPS, has drawn the ire of the doctors’ community as the proposed law makes it mandatory for physicians, dentists, and vets to provide prescriptions upon request from patients, failing which they will be guilty of an offence that is punishable by a maximum RM50,000 fine, up to five years’ imprisonment, or both.

“The MPS is deeply saddened by the actions of a foreign governmental organisation, the Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA), as in the appendix, which questions the tabling of the Poisons Bill,” said MPS in an open letter to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday.

“MPS considers this act as an act of foreign intervention against the government that violates the honour of the country. Any issue in this matter should be resolved locally as it is a domestic issue.”

MPS requested Dr Mahathir to take appropriate action on the matter.

Yesterday, the CMA — a non-governmental organisation comprising national medical associations from at least 41 commonwealth countries — urged Malaysia’s Ministry of Health to withdraw the amendments tabled on the Poisons Act 1952 that criminalised physicians for declining their patients’ prescription requests.

“While the Commonwealth Medical Association appreciates the need to advance the rights of patients within the framework of patient-centered care, the association is however not in support of any effort that seeks to vitiate the rights or professional autonomy of physicians in the Commonwealth or criminalise refusal of physicians to issue prescriptions,” said CMA president Dr Osahon Enabulele.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said today that the Bill may be revised to make declining prescriptions upon request a form of misconduct subject to the Malaysian Medical Council, rather than a criminal offence.

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