PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry will look into making the refusal of issuing a prescription slip upon a patient's request a misconduct and not a criminal offence, says Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (pic).
The Health Minister said misconduct by doctors can be handled by the Malaysian Medical Council.
He added the Ministry will look into making the change in the proposed amendment of the Poisons Act 1952 and said that it was engaging with doctors on mandatory prescriptions upon request.
He said this at a press conference on Tuesday (Dec 2) after launching a new Mental Health Handbook aimed at enabling Malaysians to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and to seek professional help early.
The Poisons (Amendment) Bill 2019 tabled at the Dewan Rakyat on Monday, among others, proposed penalising private doctors, dental surgeons, and veterinarians with a maximum fine of RM50,000, up to five years' imprisonment or both if they refuse to provide prescription slips upon request by patients examined. The current punishment is maximum fine of RM3,000, up to a year's imprisonment.
In response, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) last Friday (Nov 29) urged the government to withdraw the Bill with immediate effect.
Calling it harsh and saying that it should only be meted out for severe offences, its president Dr N. Ganabaskaran said it was a medical ethics issue rather than a criminal offence.
Asked if the proposed amendment would be withdrawn, Dzulkefly said that the framing of the Bill was a challenge to be faced.
"In all Bills, there are amendments to amendments. It could have been an oversight in putting the offence with other major offences but I am more than happy to re-look it," he said.
On Sunday (Dec 1), Dzulkefly said in a statement the matter was discussed with the ministry’s top management, the Health Advisory Council (HAC) and the Attorney General’s Chambers and added that the ministry agreed to review the matter and will present suggestions for improvement in the near future.
He also said the ministry would not restrict registered medical practitioners from providing medicines to their patients if the patients choose to get their prescription at their medical facility as being practised now.
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