MEDICINE POLICE WILL TIGHTEN CONTROL
Five years after the establishment of the National Executive Agency on Medicines with the Ministry of Health Care even MPs realized its uselessness and decided to close it down. Their motives were the indiscriminate issuance of licences to pharmacies and insufficient control on the quality and origin of medicines they sell.The agency will be replaced by a new structure with the Council of Ministers with divisions in regional centers and bigger towns. Its officials will be authorized like policemen to check the goods, sold in pharmacies, drug stores and warehouses for medicines. They will have the authority to close them down and initiate legal proceedings against the owners in cases when medicines of dubious origin or dangerous substances in them are found. The agency's officials will also control the issuance of prescriptions for pay-free medicines and those which are partly paid by the National Healthcare Insurance Fund (NHIF). According to some MPs, this is the only way to put an end to illegally operating pharmacies and stop the sale of fake medicines.The medicine police will be most probably created by March 2003 with the adoption of a law on medicine goods. The draft has been moved by the deputies from the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII) Borislav Velikov, Atanas Shterev, Plamen Kenarov and Antonia Purvanova. Insiders of the Ministry of Health Care claim that the Health Care Minister Bozhidar Finkov was not at all fascinated by the prepared change, after which control over the pharmacies and warehouses for medicines would go out of his ministry's care.The draft bill projects that the new agency with the Cabinet shall be also issuing all licences for the production of medicines and medical goods such as wheel-chairs, AIDS tests, etc. They will be entered in an unified electronic register, to be published in INTERNET and continuously updated. The medical goods, received as humanitarian aid shall be also allocated to people in need after a permission from the new state agency with sticks labeled pay-free. MPs hope to intercept in that way to a certain extent the possibility of some NGOs to import donations for disabled persons without paying customs dues and taxes and selling them on the market. The draft bill also stipulates that prisoners, soldiers and persons with mental disorders shall not be used when testing medicines and medical goods. They shall be only tested on healthy persons with their agreement signe by a notary and against payment. Before starting the tests, the producer shall be obliged to insure the volunteer for at least BGN500,000. This insurance will cover the death and permanent disablement risks.The deputies also intend to ban the advertising and lottary games with sanitary articles and even feeding-bottles in the contests organized for the Children's Day.