(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Hundreds of police and Income Tax Authority files are opened every year over the sale of counterfeit and expired prescription drugs, the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee was told on Monday.
The committee deliberated over a government bill that would regulate and make more strict the supervision and punishment of pharmacists and manufacturers and importers of drugs in the even of counterfeiting, stealing or selling defective drugs. This pharmaceutical crime bill sets down fines of up to NIS 400,000 and incarceration for up to three years.
Mickey Arieli, head of the Health Ministry’s enforcement branch, told the committee that every year many files are opened, and many faulty or counterfeit supplies are destroyed. At present, he said, the law allows only six months’ imprisonment for such crimes, so it wasn’t “worthwhile” for the police to take action. Ministry pharmaceutical branch head Dr.
Eyal Schwartzberg said the bill would prevent harm from these medications to the public health. “We don’t want to punish but to supervise.”
The director of the Israel Pharmacists Association, Amir Nitzan, warned that “pharmacies in the community are liable to collapse due to fines.”
Eyal Flum, legal adviser of the association, said that “today, one can order anything over the Internet, that’s the big crime. The bill puts heavy sanctions on administrative matters that have nothing to do with pharmaceutical crimes.”
Hanna Leiderschneider of the Israel Chambers of Commerce said that small pharmaceutical companies are in danger of suffering financial harm from the bill.
Nili Hayoun-Dickman of the ministry’s legal department said that “instructions that look small are liable to cause shortcomings and bring about bad results.” Lilach Wagner, a Justice Ministry lawyer, tried to calm down objections, stating that “a pharmacist who makes an honest mistake will not be regarded as a criminal.”
In summation, committee chairman MK Eli Alalouf said the bill is “very important, and we will take action to advance it.” Another discussion of the bill was set for Wednesday.