Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has stated in its report that Latvian Healthcare Minister Guntis Belevics may end up in a conflict of interests if his proposals for reformation of the State Agency of Medicines is successful, notes Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma.
When asked if there are any concerns about Belevics’ possible attempts to reform SAM in his own interest, Straujuma mentioned in her interview to LNT that she has no proof for this, and that the minister has the right to voice proposals that may serve state interests. At the same time, the Prime Minister would advise the minister against being actively involved in the sector in which his relatives are also very active. «I am not convinced there are strictly personal interests in this. Maybe the minister is merely active in the sphere he knows best. On the other hand, however, one has to understand that his relatives are also very active in this sector. This serves to create suspicions,» – notes the politician.
Straujuma reminds that Belevics has withdrawn the matter with reorganization of SAM from the government’s agenda this week. She says she does not know whether he plans to re-submit it to the government. In any case, Straujuma is certain that giving a ministry licensing duties is wrong and unacceptable. With that, she said Unity would not support this proposal. Politicians from the National Alliance have expressed the same position on this matter.
Nevertheless, Straujuma sees no reason to request Belevics’ dismissal.
On 1 September, the government repeatedly did not review the matter regarding the reformation of the State Agency of Medicines and delegation of some of its functions to Healthcare Ministry and Health Inspection. Belevics asked to put off the review of this matter for an indefinite period of time.
The government knows of Healthcare Ministry’s proposed amendments. An inspection of SAM has uncovered that matters related to evaluation of pharmaceutical activities are handled by two institutions under HM – State Agency for Medicines and Heath Inspection.
With that, a certain problematic situation has surfaced in Latvia. Whenever SAM carries out an evaluation of some medicine’s compliance with regulations and uncovers problems, it informs the Health Inspection, which then carries out a repeated inspection on its own. If it finds the same problem, the inspection is then able to decide on taking further action, such as the application of administrative penalty. All this uses up valuable resources of the ministry and adds an additional layer of bureaucratic burden on entrepreneurs, as mentioned by HM specialists.
The plan provides for delegating SAM’s functions in regard to issuing permits for clinical trials of different medicines to Healthcare Ministry. It is also planned that the ministry will also take over the agency’s function to issue special permits (licenses) for beginning pharmaceutical activity.