PESHAWAR, July 18: The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan’s directives to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department not to deal with matters related to traditional drugs have emerged as the main source of sale of fake medicines in the province, according to the local relevant officials.
“The authority has recently issued directives not to check the sale of homeopathic, Unani and herbal drugs. These directives have become the main source of sale of fake and spurious drugs,” an official at the health department told Dawn on Thursday.After the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the provinces were supposed to deal with the drugs-related matters, ranging from the manufacturing of drugs to its marketing and sale.
However, the provinces showed reluctance to take the responsibility with Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh requesting the federal government to set up a body in the centre to regulate drugs.
The local officials said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had 40 drugs inspectors, who checked majority of the 10,000 registered drugstores in the province.
“We’ve sent 350-400 samples to the drug testing laboratories. Half of them have been found to be substandard, fake or spurious and the culpable people penalised,” an official said.
According to him, the number of cases against chemists has increased due to the warning of Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court Dost Mohammad Khan, who is very strict with those dealing in substandard drugs.
He said even before the PHC directives, we’d received around 150 samples from the province and the cases against them were sent to the court.
The official said until a few months ago, the drug court had worked only for two days a week and therefore, the number of cases disposed of was very low.
He, however, said the drug court had been working on a regular basis and the DRAP orders blamed for sale of fake drugs in KP conviction rate had gone up.
Other officials in the health department said majority of the chemists were involved in the sale of traditional medicines, majority of which had no literature to know about its ingredients and in the process, the people suffered.
They said drug inspectors had been stopped from checking its sale by DRAP, which insisted it was going to issue specifications for traditional medicines.
The officials said the province had got the Drug Quality Control Board, which analysed the reports of the samples issued by the drug testing laboratory and sent cases to the drug court for decision.
They said the new directives had benefited drugstores dealing in both allopathic and traditional medicines.
“The drug inspectors had also used the DRAP directives to the advantage of the chemists, who have given a freehand to chemists,” an official said.
He said the number of drugstores in the province was more than 20,000, including many opened on one licence.
The official said the main business centre for fake drugs was Peshawar from where Indian and traditional drugs were supplied to the entire province.
He said the drug testing laboratory had failed to perform its task of identification of fake, spurious and substandard drugs, which had encouraged their makers to continue playing with the people’s life without let of hindrance.
The official said under the law, pharmacists were the right persons to run drugstores but in most cases, drug shops were managed by unqualified people like general and cosmetic stores.