ISLAMABAD: The quality of Pakistani medicines can be gauged from the fact that even Ethiopia prefers to ignore them.

This was stated by Senator Abdul Haseeb Khan while presiding over the Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services (NHS) meeting at the Parliament House on Tuesday.

He said there were 600 licenced factories in the country but Ethiopia had allowed only 29 firms to export medicines to the country.

Even Ethiopia does not prefer Pakistani medicines

“We are killing our new generation by giving them spurious drugs,” he said, adding that fake medicines had taken a number of lives, but the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) remained unmoved.

Senator Khan said the authorities concerned did not take any action against quacks who earned more than qualified doctors.

Senator Haseeb, who also deals in medicine manufacturing, was annoyed by his fellow manufacturers’ lack of commitment to ensuring quality of medicine.

Officials of the health department informed the members of the standing committee that they had asked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to provide intelligence regarding the business of spurious drugs.

Director Quality Assurance of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) Dr AQ Javed while briefing the committee members said that business of spurious drugs was flourishing in the country.

“Unfortunately influential personalities, even political personalities, are involved in this business. We take action against the factories involved in this illegal business,” he said.

Dr Javed said in a raid on a factory, involved in manufacturing spurious drugs, the team seized a packing machine of best quality.

“No one could imagine that a group which makes spurious drugs can use the packing machine which is used by multinational companies,” he said.

“The FIA raided a factory of spurious drugs being run in a house in Lahore by a family. The factories cannot be traced without intelligence reports,” he said.

Dr Javed said that unfortunately all people were not honest in the FIA, DRAP and other departments due to which it becomes more difficult to eradicate the crime.

Director General, Ministry of NHS, Dr Asad Hafeez said quackery was a serious issue, but the ministry did not have a mechanism to monitor it.

He suggested that the regulatory authorities should be established all over the country on the pattern of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“Besides precautions should also be taken during blood transfusion and operations,” he said.

However Dr Javed said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had been contacted for quality management system and DRAP would be in a position to have a WHO-certified laboratory in one year.

Meanwhile, the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) informed the standing committee that around 3,000 graduates of the CPSP were jobless because they were not being registered by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC).

The members were informed that after the 18th Amendment, it had become mandatory for the graduates to get themselves registered with the PMDC. But the council had been refusing to register them.

The committee recommended that the graduates should be registered and instructed the CPSP and Ministry of National Health Services to send a proposal for making amendment to the rules.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2015

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