Government pharmacy reform bill defeated at Riigikogu

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SDE MP Riina Sikkut at the Riigikogu. Sikkut submitted the bill to reject the government's latest pharmacy reform bill.
SDE MP Riina Sikkut at the Riigikogu. Sikkut submitted the bill to reject the government's latest pharmacy reform bill. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Riigikogu rejected the coalition's first-reading amendment to the Medicines Act on Tuesday, ERR reports.

The draft proposal to amend the Medicines Act was rejected, with 50 votes in support, 46 votes against and none impartial, at the 101-seat Riigikogu. Four deputies did not vote. The motion to block the bill was initiated by the Riigikogu Social Affairs Committee, including SDE MP and former health minister Riina Sikkut.

This means the latest reform will not pass. The coalition government had scrapped an earlier set of reforms which would have placed more control of the pharmacies sector in the hands of individual pharmacists, replacing them with a bill which was more or less the opposite, following pressure from pharmacy chain lobby groups.

Critics of the original reforms said that it would lead to the decimation of pharmacy outlets in rural and small town areas.

Seven MPs of the coalition Centre Party voted in favor of blocking the reform's reversal: Kalev Kallo, Andrei Korobeinik, Siret Kotka-Repinski, Oudekki Loone, Erki Savisaar, Tarmo Tamm and Marika Tuus-Laul. Four delegates abstained, including one from Centre and one from EKRE.

The proposal was preceded by a heated debate where defenders of the bill Priit Sibul (Isamaa) and Tõnis Mölder (Centre) were asked questions by both opposition and coalition MPs.

Asked by EKRE MP Peeter Ernits, who abstained from voting, whether Sibul had discussed the pharmacy reform with his fellow Isamaa member, owner of pharmaceuticals wholesaler Magnum, Margus Linnamäe, or his associates this year, Sibul said he had met with a lot of people this year and that his answer would be affirmative.

After several hours of deliberation, Riina Sikkut proposed scrapping the bill, describing it as a brilliant example of how things should not be done.

"As a citizen, I cannot agree to it being possible to buy legislation in Estonia," Sikkut said, pointing to the bill catering exclusively to pharmaceutical wholesalers. "It is a matter of parliamentary dignity."


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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