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Pharmacies get go ahead – Court ruling nullifies law

KUWAIT CITY, March 28: The Constitutional Court has issued a ruling in the lawsuit filed by the Rawda, Zahra, Adailiya, Mishref and Zahra cooperative societies, stating that it is unconstitutional to close pharmacies in cooperative societies. The court thus allowed them to practice their activities prior to the issuance of the law regulating the profession of pharmacy. The court affirmed the nullity of the pharmacy Law No. 30/2016 regarding the exclusion of pharmacies of cooperative societies licensed before the issuance of Law No. 28/1996 in the matter of organizing the profession of pharmacy and the circulation of medicines.

This means returning to the previous law, which stipulates the right of cooperative societies to have their own pharmacies without them being owned by a Kuwaiti pharmacist. The contesting cooperative societies established – before the court through their defense Lawyer Mansour Al-Fadhli – the original direct claim of the unconstitutionality of Article 1 of Law No. 30/2016 amending some provisions of Law No. 28/1996 in the matter of organizing the profession of pharmacy and the circulation of medicines. This is according to a document filed by the clerical administration of this court on 10/15/2019 on the basis of the statement that the contested text required the licensed cooperative societies, upon the entry into force of this law, to reconcile their positions within a year from the date of its issuance.

In violation of that, it was ordered to close their pharmacies that were licensed in accordance with the provisions of the old law. This new law excluded the pharmacies of companies and individuals licensed before the issuance of Law No. 28/1991 regarding the regulation of the profession of pharmacy and the circulation of medicines. It involves an arbitrary distinction between cooperative societies on one hand and companies and individuals on the other, as well as a violation of the principles of equality, social justice and freedom of competition, which leads to companies and individuals monopolizing the activity of dealing and trading in medicines in violation of articles 7, 8. 20, 29 and 153 of the Constitution.

The defense appealed against Article 1 of Law No. 30/2016 amending some provisions of Law No. 28/1996 in the matter of organizing the profession of pharmacy and dealing with medicines.

It states that, “It is not permissible to open a private pharmacy without obtaining a license from the Ministry of Health. Licenses to open pharmacies will be issued for the following categories – 1. Kuwaiti pharmacists. 2. Private hospitals where the number of beds is not less than 50. 3. Cooperative societies, provided the license is issued in the name of a Kuwaiti pharmacist. The pharmacist must not be a government sector employee. The pharmacist or the cooperative society is not licensed to have more than one pharmacy. It is not permissible for the pharmacy to have a branch anywhere else. Nevertheless, the Minister of Health may grant a cooperative society, whose activity extends to more than one residential area, the license to open a pharmacy or a branch of it in each region on the basis of each license that shall be issued in the name of a Kuwaiti pharmacist, independent of the other”.

The defense emphasized that this article contains arbitrary discrimination between them, and breaches the principles of equality, social justice and freedom of competition, as well as leads to companies and individuals monopolizing the activity of dealing and trading in medicines in violation of Articles 7, 8, 20, 29 and 153 of the Constitution.

The court ruled in its verdict that Article 2 of Law No. 28/1996 regulating the profession of pharmacy and the circulation of drugs amended by Law No. 30/2016 regarding the exclusion of pharmacies of cooperative societies having licenses prior to the issuance of law No. 28/1996 from the exception contained in it that restricted its ruling to pharmacies of companies and individuals licensed before the issuance of that law.

By Jaber Al-Hamoud Al-Seyassah Staff

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