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Thursday, 24 February 2022

Fines + jail time for improperly licensed pharmacies + no more blinding billboards

Bigger penalties for improperly licensed pharmacies: The Madbouly Cabinet approved yesterday proposed amendments to the Pharmacists Act that would impose more stringent penalties or jail time on those who set up pharmacies by “borrowing” another pharmacist’s name and license, according to a statement.

What do you mean “improperly licensed”? Any given pharmacy must be run by a licensed proprietor (whose name should be displayed on the premises, and who must be present and involved in day-to-day operations.) The law allows each individual pharmacist to open a maximum of two pharmacies under one license. That’s caused a bureaucratic hurdle for pharmacy chains looking to expand, some of which (see: El Ezaby, Roshdy, and 19011) have in the past come under scrutiny for “renting” the names of pharmacists who have already obtained licenses, bringing those names under their brand.

The penalties: Under the proposed amendments, both the chain renting the license and the pharmacist “lending” their name and license would face at least one year in prison or a fine ranging between EGP 200k-1 mn. Additionally, owners of unlicensed pharmacies would be imprisoned for no less than two years and would face a fine ranging from EGP 1 mn-2 mn. Tougher penalties will also be imposed on anyone who sells unlicensed medical products.

Also approved yesterday:

  • Executive regulations for the law regulating billboards and roadside advertisements. The regulations stipulate that billboard licenses last for only three years and can be revoked.
  • New Hajj online portal: The ministers also signed off yesterday on a draft bill that would set up a unified Hajj portal and would task one entity with distributing visas among Hajj travel agencies. A ministerial committee would also be set up to lay out the criteria for selecting who gets the visa, as well as deciding how many people will be authorized to perform Hajj annually. The portal would mimic a similar mechanism set up for Egyptians seeking to go on Umrah.

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