[WATCH] Dalli says government cannot offer guarantee that importation of morning after pill will not be banned

Civil liberties minister Helena Dalli has said that the Medicines Authority will be autonomous in its decision whether or not to offer any guarantees against a ban on the importation of the contraceptive pill.

[WATCH] Medicines authority will decide fate of morning-after pill
[WATCH] Medicines authority will decide fate of morning-after pill

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Civil liberties minister Helena Dalli has stayed cautious about a guarantee that the morning-after pill would be granted an importation licence, saying that as minister she would rest solely on the authority of the Medicines Authority.

MPs recently debated the importation of the emergency contraceptive, after a women’s rights NGOs filed a judicial protest demanding that no ban be imposed on an importation licence for MAP.

Dalli said that she had already said she would follow the advice given by the authority with regard to making the pill available locally, which has revealed disagreement between Labour MPs and the government on the matter.

“The government can only take advice and ask for a direction from the authority, but it has an ultimate right, duty and autonomy to do whatever it deems necessary in the long run,” Dalli said.

After lambasting a call by doctors to set up a committee to analyse whether to green-light the importation of the morning-after pill at a joint family, health and social affairs committee earlier this week, Dalli said that although the Medicine’s Authority had made its position clear, the government had a duty to listen to the opinions of other factions.

Asked whether the issue of the morning-after pill would suffer a similar fate as that suffered by embryo freezing due to the disagreement between MPs, Dalli added that parliament would convene later today to continue discussing the opinions of various experts.

“Following these discussions, we will analyse the feedback collected and decide what our next step should be,” she said.

An attempt to import the emergency contraceptive Levonelle in 2006 was blocked by the bioethics committee, a consultative committee of scientists, priests and other political appointees, despite the go-ahead of the Medicines Authority, the pharmaceuticals regulator, chairman Prof. Anthony Serracino Inglott told the newsroom weeks ago.

The regulator had approved the contraceptive for retail in Malta after having analysed the quality, efficacy and safety of the medicinal, but the bioethics committee had prevented the importation, claiming Levonelle could be considered as an ‘abortifacient’,” a drug causing abortion.

Serracino Inglott said the active ingredients of ellaOne (ulipristal acetate), an emergency contraceptive similar to Levonelle, which contains levonorgestrel, are already available in Malta as the main active ingredients of other drugs.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said that the government was not in a position to stop the importation of ellaOne.

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