Head of the coalition's pharmacy reform working group Tõnis Mölder (Centre) finds that Tuesday's scrapping of amendments to the Medicines Act constitutes a blow to the unity of the coalition.
What will happen next?
Today's decision was a triumph of democracy on the one hand: the majority of the Riigikogu expressed a strong position. However, I must say that I personally believe dropping the bill from proceedings was not a wise decision by MPs because I still believe that Estonia and its people will be hit by a pharmacy market crisis on April 1, 2020. Availability of medicinal products will suffer greatly, and I believe a few hundred pharmacies will be closed in different parts of Estonia.
What will the coalition do next?
This day has been a difficult and complicated one for the coalition. I believe the coalition's favorable and businesslike team spirit has been delivered a serious setback through various votes. That said, we should take some time to process this, give Christmas its turn and then see whether anyone wants to bring this matter to the floor again.
When could the social affairs committee return to it?
The Riigikogu Social Affairs Committee has no plan to discuss this matter further. Should a member of the committee propose we do once we return to work in January, we can come back to it, but I believe that the Riigikogu majority clearly demonstrated today that it wants this matter put to bed and for this debate not to reside here, which I believe is a problem because having the debate on the floor is something I've held necessary and good. It would have been a fundamental debate, and I believe that MPs who did not support the amendment today, and also the Ministry of Social Affairs, must take responsibility for what will happen from April 1.
You were one of the defender's of the bill in the Riigikogu today. Were you to say once more why you feel the bill is deserving.
I think the bill was good in that it sought to bring this matter back to the Riigikogu. I think having that debate on the floor was good. In the working group, we aimed to remove pharmacy sector restrictions to legalize the current situation. Because we can see that the people of Estonia are happy with the current situation, with 90 percent saying they're happy with the pharmacy service.
Our goal really was to prevent a few hundred pharmacies from being closed from April 1. We also wanted branch pharmacies to be able to stay open in smaller cities, counties and giving current owners the right to turn branch pharmacies into general pharmacies that would have pharmacists working there. That was the aim of the debate today.
What the coming hours, days-weeks will bring is a serious point of discussion both from the general political viewpoint and in light of this piece of legislation.
Editor: Marcus Turovski