December 3, 2023

The cabinet on Monday gave the final approval to the draft of the ‘Drugs and Cosmetics Bill, 2023’, previously titled as the ‘Drugs Bill, 2022’,  incorporating cosmetics into the jurisdiction of the proposed law, initially framed for regulating the import, export, manufacturing and sale of medicines, with provisions for tough punishments.

The draft also included provisions for introducing a monitoring mechanism against antibiotic resistance and for imposing a Tk 20,000 fine for selling antibiotics over the counter — i.e. without prescriptions from registered doctors — to check the misuse of such drugs.

The Health Services Division placed the draft bill at the weekly cabinet meeting with prime minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair at her Tejgaon office, proposing life-term imprisonment and a Tk 10 lakh fine as the maximum punishment for violating the law once enacted.  

‘The title of the bill, prepared by updating the Drugs (Control) Ordinance of 1982 and the Drugs Act of 1940, will now be renamed as the  ‘Drugs and Cosmetics Bill, 2023,’ cabinet secretary Md Mahbub Hossain told a press briefing at the secretariat after the cabinet meeting.

The draft has incorporated, he said, provisions for monitoring anti-biotic resistance and making sure that the drugs are not sold without prescription.

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 cabinet secretary said that 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,’ Mahbub said, adding that the licencing authority will be designated in the rules to be framed under the law.

He said that life-term imprisonment was proposed for manufacturing medicines without licences and also for creating an artificial crisis of any medicine.

The draft 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.  

On August 11, 2022, the cabinet approved in principle the draft ‘Drugs Bill, 2022’, incorporating provisions for a jail term of 10 years and a fine of Tk 10 lakh as the maximum punishment for manufacturing medicines without registration or for producing fake medicines among others. 

The maximum punishment for such offences in the existing laws is three-year jail along with a fine of Tk two lakh.

As per the proposed law, there shall be a separate court in every district town to deal with the cases under the drugs law.

The weekly cabinet meeting on Monday also gave the final approval to the Copyright Bill, 2023.

It further decided in principle to observe ‘National Local Government Day’, but did not fix the day for observance.


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