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Pending bills in the parliament: What will be the new health minister’s next move?

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The new Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has his work cut out for him. As per data compiled by the PRS Legislative Research, the highest number of pending bills in the Rajya Sabha, 11, are from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. It will be upto the Health Minister to decide if these Bills will be taken forward. Some of the pending Bills have been anticipated for a long time and the industry is hoping that the new government will take action on these soon. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 is the latest in the list of pending bills. The Bill seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS, prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS, provides for informed consent and confidentiality with regard to their treatment, places obligations on establishments to safeguard their rights, and creates mechanisms for redressing their complaints.

The Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bill, 2013 is the most anticipated and followed Bill by the healthcare industry globally. The Bill amends the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and changes the name of the Act to the Drugs, Cosmetics and Medical Devices Act, 1940. The Bill proposes changes in the regulation of the import, export, manufacture, distribution and sale of drugs, cosmetics and medical devices and to ensure safety, efficacy, quality and conduct of clinical trials.

The Bill has the provision for creating a Central Drug Authority (CDA) to regulate clinical trials in India and specify guidelines, structures and requirements for the effective functioning of the central and state licensing authorities; review, suspend or cancel any license or permission issued by them; and decide on disputes between two or more state licensing authorities relating to the provisions of the Act and rules and regulations made under it. The Bill constitutes the Medical Devices Technical Advisory Board and the Drugs Technical Advisory Board to advise the central and state governments and the CDA on technical matters pertaining to medical devices, and drugs.

The other awaited Bills are the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2013 that was brought in to replace an Ordinance notified on May 23, 2013, to amend the Indian Medical Council Act 1956; and The Mental Health Care Bill, 2013. Apart from protecting the rights of persons with mental illness and promoting their access to mental healthcare the bill also makes way for suicide to be presumed mental illness and attempted suicide to not be punished under the Indian Penal Code. The Bill seeks to prohibited electro-convulsive therapy for minors and is allowed only with the use of muscle relaxants and anaesthesia for adults.

(With Inputs from M Neelam Kachhap)

EP News BureauBengaluru

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