THE DRAFT bill sponsored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to replace the 1967 Drug Act has been withdrawn on grounds that it still contains some contentious points that need revision, Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said yesterday.
The ministry plans to invite all parties involved to discuss and resolve the points of contention – a step that should be completed by the end of November – so that this draft is a modern law that does not benefit only specific groups but is meant for the Thai public, he added.
“Since this draft law has some points of contention, it will only cause more problems if it were to go ahead. Hence, it has been withdrawn for talks to reconsider these points,” he explained, adding that the people’s sector, academics and pharmacists will be participating in the discussion.
The biggest points of contention are Article 24 (3) and the Article 25 (6), which many believe will allow pharmacies to be operated by personnel trained by the FDA, not qualified pharmacists. The FDA had earlier explained that this rule would only apply to some 2,800 existing pharmacies and would not last beyond the life of the current licence holders. It also said that these articles would be revised later in consultation with the Council of State.
These articles have worried pharmacists, who are afraid that this bill will allow unqualified personnel to dispense medication and even allow convenience stores to easily sell drugs, posing a risk to people’s lives.
Last week, 10 pharmacist networks threatened to upgrade their protests unless the FDA withdrew the bill from the ongoing legislative process.
Thailand has traditionally suffered from a shortage of qualified pharmacists, so it began allowing some pharmacies to be run by diploma holders. However, today there are more than 30,000 pharmacists in the nation and their networks have been firm against any plan to allow new pharmacies to operate without trained pharmacists.