ISLAMABAD: The first full time chief executive officer (CEO) for the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), which was being run on ad hoc basis for the last two years, was appointed on Friday.
The Establishment Division issued a notification, available with Dawn, appointing Dr Muhammad Aslam, who has a doctorate in pharmacy, as the new CEO on a three-year contract. However, according to sources, the contract may be extended for another year.
Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) policy board has approved a gross salary of Rs1.2 million per month for Dr Aslam and an annual increment of Rs75,000. He will receive travel expenses equal to a Management Position (MP) I officer.
Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan was established under the DRAP Act 2012 to provide effective coordination and enforcement of the Drugs Act 1976 and to bring harmony in inter-provincial trade and commerce of therapeutic goods.
The act clearly states that the no acting CEO may serve for over three months but the authority was functioning under acting CEOs for over two years.
The post of the CEO was advertised three times but hiring could not be done. The current government hired Ferguson, a chartered accountancy firm, to receive applications and shortlist candidates.
An NHS ministry official, requesting anonymity, said four candidates from the public sector — Dr Tanveer Alam, deputy director general (DDG) DRAP Karachi, Dr Sheikh Akhtar Hussain DDG DRAP Lahore and Khalid Khan drug analyst Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Dr Abdul Rasheed DDG DRAP Islamabad — were shortlisted.
New chief executive officer will be receiving salary of Rs1.2 million per month
Two candidates from the private sector, Dr Ahson Siddiqui and Dr Muhammad Aslam, were also on the list.
“However, names of four government officers were dropped because of corruption allegations and names of the two candidates from the private sector were sent to the prime minister,” he said.
“From the two names, the prime minister selected Dr Muhammad Aslam,” he added.
NHS Secretary Ayub Sheikh confirmed to Dawn that Dr Aslam had been appointed the CEO. He also confirmed the gross salary for the chief executive officer.
In response to a question, the secretary said he will ensure a supportive and conducive environment in DRAP for Dr Aslam.
However, a ministry official, requesting anonymity, said Mr Aslam faces a big challenge in dealing with corrupt mafias involved in leasing buildings, giving licences for medicines and fixing drug prices.
“As Dr Aslam is from the private sector, it will take him some time to understand the issues at DRAP. It is feared that he will be manipulated by the mafia before he becomes aware of the issues,” he said.
“Moreover, as a pharmacist, he will face pressures from the pharmacists’ lobby. However, the appointment of a permanent head is a positive development,” the official said.
Dr Aslam told Dawn that he had 30 years of experience in the national and multinational pharmaceutical industry.
“I aim to ensure patients get quality drugs at reasonable prices,” he said, adding “I will deal with the issue of inferior drugs in the market.”
He said he saw potential in Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry and if quality was improved, Pakistani drugs could be exported.
Published in Dawn February 1st, 2015