Polish Pharmaceutical Chambers have no rights to verify competencies of pharmacy directors

27 September 2013

Marta Koremba, Marcin Alberski

On 5 June 2013, the Supreme Court overruled the resolution of the District Pharmaceutical Council on the procedure for approving candidates for the position of pharmacy director (file no. III ZS 8/13).

Based on Polish Pharmaceutical Law, District Pharmaceutical Councils participate in the assessment of a pharmacy permit application by issuing an opinion on the grant or refusal of the pharmacy permit. The Council’s opinion includes inter alia assessment of a candidate for the position of pharmacy director.

One of the District Pharmaceutical Chambers adopted a resolution by which it introduced a new procedure for candidates' assessment involving some additional requirements. Firstly, each candidate was obliged to pass a test on knowledge of the responsibilities of a pharmacist, including those of a pharmacy director. Secondly, a professional experience questionnaire had to be completed by each candidate. Thirdly, each candidate had to attend an interview conducted by the opinion committee. Finally, the candidate was required to evidence his/her efforts to improve their qualifications.

The above-mentioned resolution was challenged by the Minister of Health who claimed that District Pharmaceutical Chambers should issue their opinions based exclusively on the information submitted in the pharmacy permit application. No provision entitles them to introduce additional proceedings which require additional verification of candidates' competencies.

As a result, the Supreme Court overruled the resolution indicating that it imposed requirements on candidates that exceeded the obligations provided under pharmaceutical law. Justice Kiryłło of the Supreme Court restated that the Chambers’ opinions are not binding as Regional Pharmaceutical Inspectors are the only authorities authorised to grant pharmacy permits. Hence, if candidates fulfil the educational requirement and possess a minimum of five years' pharmaceutical experience, the Chambers are not entitled to additionally verify their competencies.

The Supreme Court judgement is important for the future practice of Chambers. Moreover, the decision is another chapter in the on-going dispute over pharmacists' guarantee of their compliance with the total ban on pharmaceutical advertising.

Cassation available to all punished doctors

On 20 July 2013, the amendment to the Medical Chambers Act dated 2 December 2009 became effective. It has unified the appeal procedure for disciplinary judgments against doctors.

The amendment implemented the Constitutional Tribunal's judgment of 29 June 2010, which confirmed that the Medical Chambers Act was partly inconsistent with the Polish Constitution. Under the old regulations, doctors could lodge a cassation only if they were punished with the most severe types of penalty, i.e. suspension or deprivation of the right to practice. In the case of a warning or a reprimand, doctors had no right to appeal the judgment.

The amendment applies to medical chambers, veterinary-medical chambers, pharmaceutical chambers, nurses and midwives’ chambers, as well as the National Chamber of Laboratory Diagnosticians. Practitioners of the above-mentioned professions are entitled to file a cassation against second instance disciplinary court judgements with the Supreme Court. The term for lodging a cassation has been unified and is now two months from delivery of the judgement.

Cassation is a type of extraordinary means of appeal. Regardless of the type of penalty imposed, cassation is available on the grounds of the irregularities listed in the Criminal Procedure Code, or gross violation of the law. It is also possible to submit a cassation due to the disparity of the penalty imposed. 

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