Gov­ern­ment Whip re­buffs claims that par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee ex­erted pres­sure on Medicines Au­thor­ity on MAP is­sue

Malta Independent - - NEWS - He­lena Grech

Gov­ern­ment Whip God­frey Far­ru­gia has re­buffed claims that the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee which made rec­om­men­da­tions for the Morn­ing After Pill to be pro­vided via a doc­tor’s pre­scrip­tion ex­erted some form of pres­sure on the Medicines Au­thor­ity.

It is up to the Medicines Au­thor­ity, which is an au­ton­o­mous en­tity, to li­cense med­i­ca­tion in Malta. Some days ago, it an­nounced that MAP would be li­censed and made avail­able over the counter through phar­ma­cies.

Asked about com­ments made by Dr An­drea Dibben of the Women’s Rights Foun­da­tion – the very same that orig­i­nally filed a ju­di­cial protest in July to have MAP li­censed in Malta – that the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee at­tempted to ex­ert pres­sure on the Medicines Au­thor­ity through its rec­om­men­da­tions, Dr Far­ru­gia said: “We did not ex­ert pres­sure, if you see the var­i­ous con­clu­sions of the re­port, we never ex­erted pres­sure on the au­thor­ity.

“I never com­mented on Pro­fes­sor An­thony Ser­ra­cino In­glott’s con­clu­sions, which shows that there was no at­tempt to in­flu­ence an area that is his re­mit.”

Tak­ing a look at the con­clu­sions from the re­port drawn up by the joint par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee, clause five speaks of the Crim­i­nal Code of Malta. The im­pli­ca­tion here is that while the Medicines Au­thor­ity is an au­ton­o­mous body, it is not com­pletely in­de­pen­dent as it must still ad­here to Malta’s laws.

Clause num­ber six then goes on to say that the Medicines Au­thor­ity should not li­cense a medicine that has an abortive ef­fect. Whether MAP can have an abortive ef­fect is hotly dis­puted by the pro-life camp, cit­ing stud­ies that find in a mi­nor­ity of cases it could have an ef­fect post-fer­til­i­sa­tion. Ma­jor in­ter­na­tional health or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the United Na­tions and the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion, as well as a num­ber of Malta’s health care pro­fes­sion­als have said that there is no ev­i­dence to sup­port this claim.

A protest was held last Sun­day over the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tion for MAP to be is­sued via a doc­tor’s pre­scrip­tion. Gen­der Equal­ity Malta, the Women’s Rights Foun­da­tion and other pro­po­nents of the drug ar­gued that time is of the essence in the case of emer­gency con­tra­cep­tion, and fur­ther de­lays in its ac­ces­si­bil­ity would de­feat the pur­pose.

The con­clud­ing re­marks of the re­port drawn up by the joint par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee ar­gue that while Malta has the lux­ury of pro­vid­ing ac­cess to fam­ily doc­tors, whether pri­vately or pub­licly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In view of the wide spread ac­ces­si­bil­ity of fam­ily doc­tors, seek­ing a pre­scrip­tion would not pose such an ob­sta­cle and would also pro­vide a plat­form for dis­cussing so­cial, fam­ily and long-term con­tra­cep­tive is­sues.

It has also been ar­gued that should the need for MAP arise when phar­ma­cies are closed, one would have to wait for the of­fice­hours in or­der to gain ac­cess, there­fore de­feat­ing the ar­gu­ment of time be­ing of the essence. Had the drug been li­censed and avail­able via pre­scrip­tion, a woman in need could visit a doc­tor avail­able, most likely through Malta’s health care cen­tres, and then go to hos­pi­tal to pur­chase MAP, no mat­ter the time.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.