It has been brought to the attention of the Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA) that
there is an attempt by the Government of Malaysia, through the Ministry of Health of
Malaysia, to introduce some amendments to the extant Poison Act of Malaysia. Worrisome
is the fact that these proposed amendments seek to compel Physicians to mandatorily issue
prescriptions to patients upon their demand, failing which such physicians are to be jailed
and ned RM3,000.

While the Commonwealth Medical Association appreciates the need to advance the rights
of patients within the framework of Patient centred care, the association is however not in
support of any effort that seeks to vitiate the rights or professional autonomy of physicians in
the Commonwealth or criminalize refusal of physicians to issue prescriptions.

The Commonwealth Medical Association wishes to remind the authorities in Malaysia that
Medicine like other professions is a self-regulatory profession, and that acts such as refusal
of physicians to issue prescriptions to patients bother on ethical conduct which are meant to
be adjudicated upon by the Medical Regulatory Council of each country. To legislate the
criminalization of such a conduct, as contemplated by the recent effort to amend the poison
act (enacted in 1952) in Malaysia, is not only an effort at violating the professional autonomy
of physicians, but an act that is incongruous with the ethical codes/framework guiding the
profession of medicine.

In line with the foregoing, the Commonwealth Medical Association urges the Malaysian
government/Ministry of Health to withdraw its proposed amendments to the Poison Act, and
seek more sincere and productive consultation with stakeholders, particularly the
Malaysian Medical Association and the Malaysian Medical Council, in the review of any
aspect of the Poison Act bordering on prescription rights of physicians or the review of any
Act guiding the practice of medicine in Malaysia.

 

Dr. Osahon Enabulele
President,
Commonwealth Medical Association