Pharmaceutical companies that market prescription drugs in the next few months
without translations of package information into Arabic and Russian will have to
pay fines, according to a law approved Monday for its second and third readings
in the Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee.
proposal, pushed by Health Minister Yael German, was approved after a noisy and
long discussion in the committee. Companies that delay implementation of the
previously passed law requiring translations from May 1 will have to pay NIS
30,000 to NIS 60,000 for each delay of three months, it was decided. Pharmacies
may keep selling drugs lacking the translations if they are already on the
The companies had been warned nearly two years in advance about
the change, but they continue to argue that they didn’t have time, said
The companies warned the ministry that if the deadline is not
postponed, patients will be left without lifesaving and other prescription
German said the fines would be used to supply Arabic- and
Russian-speaking people with information on drug contents and usage. This, she
added, would cost NIS 8 million. At present, package information must appear
only in Hebrew and English.
At first, Knesset committee chairman MK Haim
Katz said he feared that the fines would go to the Treasury and not directly to
the Health Ministry.
Daniel Berman, head of Pharma-Israel, which
represents drug companies, tried at the session to postpone the deadline. About
12 million packages of about 200 different drugs have already been translated,
he said, but others remain.
Health Ministry director-general Prof. Ronni
Gamzu said at the meeting that the pharmaceutical companies “know they could
have done better” to meet the deadline. “I will not round corners.”