Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands said the public faced no significant risk from people who were employed as pharmacists despite not being educated at an accredited institution.
The Pharmacy Council in 2017 refused to renew licences for people who had obtained their qualifications from the McHari Institute, ruling the council previously erred in originally issuing the licences because the institution was not accredited.
Philippa Finlayson challenged the decision but was denied Supreme Court relief, so she subsequently appealed the ruling along with 12 other applicants.
The matter is still before the Court of Appeal. However, the court denied the applicants’ application for a mandatory injunction pending appeal.
“Even if it was accepted that the applicants have some prospect of succeeding on their appeal it could not be said that it was a strong case,” Justice Roy Jones wrote. “The dominant factor in deciding whether to grant the mandatory interim injunction sought by the applicants was that the respondent’s decision was made in the exercise of its statutory powers for the public good. The public interest and the balance of convenience would not be served by granting the injunction sought by the applicants.”
Asked about the matter yesterday, Dr Sands said: “At no time do we believe there was any significant risk to the general population because there has been tremendous scrutiny over the industry as a whole.
“I think the ruling of the justices have vindicated the existence of the Pharmacy Council. The Pharmacy Council is a fairly recent addition, I believe it came into being around 2009 and shortly after coming to existence would have raised the question about a group of individuals that have trained at a local school and was granted degrees in pharmacy. The individuals would have initially been registered by the Pharmacy Council, but subsequently their registration was revoked. It has been a very contentious matter and now the court has ruled that views of the Pharmacy Council should be upheld and these individuals must now sit a licensing exam. In the meantime, they will be allowed to function as pharmacy technicians.
“This has been a very unfortunate, contentious, challenging episode. I think the courts have now spoken, we are minded to follow the judgment of the courts. Until such time as the appeal is launched however, the court’s instructions are explicit and that is that these individuals no longer have the option to have provisional licences as pharmacists to be given to them.”