CISE Dispensers (U) Ltd. v. Executive Secretary, National Drug Authority

[2010] UGCA 38; Civil Appeal No. 20 of 2009
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The appellant operated an Allied Professional Health Unit. On July 25, 2008, the respondent, accompanied by the police, entered the appellant’s premises where they “inspected, searched and impounded some drugs found thereon.” The respondent claimed that the premises was not licensed, arrested the appellant, and confiscated the impounded drugs.

The High Court dismissed the applicant’s initial application which sought various orders, declarations and a permanent injunction against the respondent. The applicant appealed such dismissal.

The appeal was based on three grounds:

  1. That it was an error in law and fact to hold that the National Drug Policy and Authority Act (the “NDPA”) and the Allied Health Professionals Act (“AHPA”) complement each other;
  2. That it was an error that some of the drugs found were classified as restricted; and
  3.  That the lower court was not specific in how the impounded drugs should be dealt with.

 

The Court dismissed all three grounds of appeal.

Court Findings on Ground 1
The Court held that the NDPA and the AHPA complement rather than conflict with each other in that the NDPA prescribes the functions of the drug authority which implements the national drug policy (i.e., governing the quality and regulation of drugs) whereas the AHPA regulates the supervision of allied health professionals. As the two acts were complementary and not in conflict, the AHPA did not implicitly repeal the provisions of the NDPA that authorized the National Drug Authority to inspect the applicant’s premises. Thus, the respondent acted under its proper statutory mandate when it entered the applicant’s premises and confiscated the drugs.

Court Findings on Ground 2
The Court held that the Uganda Clinical Guidelines 2003 did not classify the list of essential drugs as the appellant erroneously argued.  Rather, the National Drug Authority established such list of essential drugs under Section 8 of the NDPA. Moreover, Section 12 of the NDA established the list of restricted drugs, certain of which restricted drugs were found on the applicant’s premises, who was not authorized under the NDPA Act to dispense such drugs.

Court Findings on Ground 3
The Court held that the judge lower court not err in failing to specify the way in which the drugs should be dealt with as it is not necessary for the court to “spell out the details of enforcing sentence which the enforcement officers are presumed to know.”

“For the respondent it was argued that Uganda Clinical Guidelines 2003 was not intended to classify drugs and did not purport to do so. The fore-word expressly states that the Guidelines were designed to provide updates, practical and useful information for lower level health facilities. The mandate to prepare a national list of essential drugs lies with the NDA under Section 8 of the NDAP Act. The national list is not meant to classify drugs but only lists those essential drugs considered to be the most appropriate for use in the public health system. It is Section 12 that classifies the restricted drugs and the list is extensive on what amounts to restricted drugs are those specified in the first, second and third schedules to the Act…These restricted drugs were found on the premises of the applicant. Thus under Sections 13, 14 and 15 of the NDPA Act it is only pharmacists, dentists, veterinary surgeons or licensed persons who are allowed to dispense of supply restricted drugs. The appellant did not fall under the provisions of the aforementioned sections.” Page 6-7.

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