Concourt slams MPS for in­clud­ing vets in new drug li­cence law

Saturday Star - - METRO - SHAIN GERMANER [email protected]

PAR­LIA­MENT and the Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces (NCOP) have been chas­tised by the Con­sti­tu­tional Court af­ter fail­ing to seek pub­lic com­ment be­fore sign­ing off on new med­i­cal leg­is­la­tion.

The Medicines and Re­lated Sub­stances Amend­ment Act was ini­tially signed in De­cem­ber 2015, with the doc­u­ment lay­ing out which med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als were re­quired to have a li­cence to dis­pense and com­pound medicines.

How­ever, the South African Vet­eri­nary As­so­ci­a­tion (Sava) has in­sisted that vets should not be in­cluded in this list, and that when the pub­lic was asked for com­ment on the bill when it was pro­posed in 2011 there was no men­tion of vets in the ini­tial draft.

How­ever, when the Na­tional Assem­bly port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on health re­alised this, it amended the draft bill to in­clude vet­eri­nar­i­ans with only a few days left for pub­lic com­ment, giv­ing Sava and other vet­eri­nar­ian in­ter­est groups no time to make sub­mis­sions.

The apex court ruled in a unan­i­mous judg­ment on Wed­nes­day that the NCOP and Na­tional Assem­bly had failed to fa­cil­i­tate mean­ing­ful pub­lic in­volve­ment around the sud­den in­ser­tion of vet­eri­nar­i­ans into the act.

“The Na­tional Assem­bly port­fo­lio com­mit­tee made this amend­ment with­out ob­tain­ing the req­ui­site per­mis­sion from the Na­tional Assem­bly and with­out any pub­lic in­volve­ment on the in­ser­tion.

“This com­plete lack of pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion ren­ders the ac­tions of the Na­tional Assem­bly con­sti­tu­tion­ally in­valid,” the court ruled.

Sava has in­sisted since the act was rat­i­fied that it meant vets could not dis­pense med­i­ca­tion with­out a li­cence that was specif­i­cally de­signed for hu­man medicine, and this af­fected pet owners in ru­ral ar­eas.

If a ru­ral vet did not re­ceive the li­cence, they would have to re­di­rect pet owners to phar­ma­cies, which of­ten did not stock med­i­ca­tion for an­i­mals.

The Con­sti­tu­tional Court or­dered that “vet­eri­nar­ian” was sev­ered from the act, and that the Speaker of the Na­tional Assem­bly and the chair­per­son of the NCOP pay Sava’s le­gal costs.

The as­so­ci­a­tion lauded the judg­ment as a vic­tory for vets coun­try­wide.

“Had we lost the im­pact would have been dev­as­tat­ing to a very large group of peo­ple.

“The vic­tory is ar­guably the big­gest event in the vet­eri­nary as­so­ci­a­tion’s his­tory. It was led by a team of ded­i­cated in­di­vid­u­als sup­ported by the board of di­rec­tors of Sava.

“A spe­cial men­tion must be made to Dr Jo­han Marais, Sava’s im­me­di­ate past pres­i­dent.

“It was dur­ing his pres­i­dency of the as­so­ci­a­tion that Sava launched its ap­pli­ca­tion,” said Sava in a me­dia state­ment.

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