The ‘Drugs and Cosmetics Bill, 2023’ previously titled as the ‘Drugs Bill, 2022’ was passed in Parliament on Thursday prividing for penalty of Tk 20,000 to life-term for different offences.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque moved the bill and it was passed by voice vote.
The proposed law incorporates cosmetics into its jurisdiction. It is initially framed for regulating the import, export, manufacturing and sale of medicines, with provisions of tougher punishments.
The bill proposed life-term imprisonment and a Tk 10 lakh fine as the maximum punishment for manufacturing medicines without registration or for producing fake medicines among others.
The proposed law also included provisions for introducing a monitoring mechanism against antibiotic abuse and for imposing a Tk 20,000 fine for selling antibiotics without prescriptions from registered doctors to check the misuse of such drugs.
The maximum punishment for such offences in the existing laws is three-year jail along with a fine of Tk two lakh.
The government decided to bring the production, import, marketing and sale of cosmetics under the drugs law in the wake of allegations that fake and adulterated cosmetics have flooded the country’s market, having injurious effects on public health.
The companies involved in manufacturing, importing, storing and selling cosmetic products would require obtaining fresh licences from the government.
The Directorate General of Health Services and the Directorate General of Drug Administration will regulate the production, marketing, import and sale of the cosmetics as they do in the case of any medicines.
The licensing authority will be designated in the rules to be framed under the law.
The bill also defined at least 30 offences, including the production, sale and marketing of fake and adulterated medicines and cosmetics injurious to the public health.
The import, production and marketing of cosmetics — mixtures of chemical compounds used for personal care and skincare — are now regulated by the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution.
As per the proposed law, there shall be a separate court in every district town to deal with the cases under the drugs law.
Participating in the discussion on the bill, Jatiya Party members Fakhrul Imam and Shamim Haider Patwari said that cosmetics and same like items different products are different.
“But why it is being given under the drug administration.”
JP member Pir Fazlur Rahman said that the Ministry of Health is not able to perform its duties properly.
“The prices of 236 medicines have been increased. The Ministry of Health is not doing anything about these issues. Meanwhile, why they will be given this responsibility is not clear.”
Gonoforum member Mokabbir Khan said that the interests of vested interests are involved with this bill.
“Some of these clauses may be against public interest. Therefore, it will not be right to pass the bill hastily for the sake of any pir-darvesh.”
The health minister said that damage to cosmetics traders is not the government’s intention.
“Government’s objective is to protect people’s health and prevent adulterated medicines and cosmetics,” he said.