ISLAMABAD: The National Accoun-tability Bureau (NAB) has recovered Rs385 million from owners of a pharmaceutical company under a plea bargain deal in a drug pricing scandal.

According to a NAB spokesman, the recovery of Rs385m from Tariq Haider and Mian Khalid Mehmood, directors of RG Pharmaceuticals, was said to be one of the highest plea bargain deals made with any accused.

Giving details of the scam, the spokesman said that officials of the Ministry of National Regulations and Health Services and owners of some pharmaceutical firms had been involved in it.

An investigation by NAB officer Muhammad Saleem Ahmad Khan under the supervision of the director general of NAB, Rawalpindi, Syed Zahir Shah, had been under progress on allegations of an illegal increase in drug prices.

NAB had received a complaint that some officers of the ministry of health and others were involved in an illegal increase of prices of drugs through misuse of Drugs Pricing Committee (DPC) meetings which had taken place on Oct 9, 2012, and Jan 22, 2013, and its sub-committee’s meeting on Nov 19, 2012.

In these meetings prices of drugs were fixed as per Section 12 of the Drugs Act, 1976, by the DPC.

During the NAB investigation, it was revealed that some pharmaceutical companies had been given undue financial favour by members of the DPC by allowing an exorbitant increase in prices of drugs made by the companies.

It was also revealed that the management of the RG Pharmaceutical Company, in connivance with members of the DPC, got an unjustified price increase in Venofer injection on the basis of an import invoice at a rate of three euros/ampoule whereas actually the company was importing its product at the rate of 2.5/ampoule CHF (Swiss currency) at that time.

Accused Tariq Haider and Mian Khalid Mehmood submitted an application to NAB with a request to pay the amount through a plea bargain deal.

They agreed to voluntarily make the payment as per terms of the plea bargain.

“The request of the accused persons was considered by the competent authority after taking into consideration facts/circumstances of the case and keeping in view the total liability of Rs385.11m,” the spokesman said. After the NAB chief accepted the plea bargain of Rs385.11m, it was also approved by the Accountability Court, Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2016

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