Government Defers Second Reading Of Poisons Bill

The Poisons (Amendment) 2019 Bill proposes incarcerating doctors, dentists, and vets who decline to issue drug prescriptions requested by patients.

KUALA LUMPUR, August 27 — The government postponed today the tabling of the controversial Poisons (Amendment) 2019 Bill for second reading to the next Parliament meeting.

The Bill had come under fire from several medical groups and lawmakers for proposed amendments to the Poisons Act 1952, which regulates medicines, that would effectively criminalise doctors, dentists, and veterinarians who decline to issue drug prescriptions requested by patients. Failure to do so will see them found guilty of an offence that is punishable by a maximum RM50,000 fine, up to five years’ imprisonment, or both.

“The second reading of the Poisons (Amendment) 2019 Bill, which is listed as the seventh item on the Parliament order paper, is postponed. The second and third reading of the Bill will be tabled in the next meeting,” Deputy Health Minister Aaron Ago Dagang told the Dewan Rakyat today on the last day of the current meeting.

The Poisons (Amendment) 2019 Bill was tabled for first reading at the House of Representatives on November 25 last year under the then-Pakatan Harapan administration.

After constant backlash from medical practitioners, the Ministry of Health (MOH) conducted a stakeholders’ meeting last February, chaired by Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah — before the new Perikatan Nasional government took power — to discuss the impact of suggested amendments to the Poisons Act.

Stakeholders stated that MOH has promised to remove the provision from the Bill that proposed imprisoning medical practitioners who do not provide prescriptions upon request.

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