ISLAMABAD: After receiving complaints that pharmacies charged heavy amounts from patients to import medicines not registered in Pakistan, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) on Saturday clarified that patients can import small quantities of such medicines themselves.

The process to get approval for the import has been simplified and now a patient just needs to submit an application along with the copy of their national identity card and original prescription of the physician to get approval for the import of a medicine for personal use, Drap said in a statement.

An official of Drap added that sometimes doctors prescribed medicines which were not available in the country because of a shortage or any other reason.

“In the international market, new medicines frequently arrive but they cannot be purchased from Pakistan.

“For example, when a medicine for hepatitis C was invented in the United States there was a huge requirement of it in Pakistan. However, the drug cannot be sold in Pakistan before registration,” he said.

“On the other hand, it has been observed that patients go to pharmacies to get any needed medicine. But pharmacies not only provide them smuggled medicines but there can also be a chance of substandard or spurious medicine being sold to them. Moreover, such medicines are provided to patients at a very high rate,” he said.

“There are a few medicines which are not registered in Pakistan due to patent issues or other reasons. Patients can apply to Drap offices in the capital or provincial headquarters for obtaining import permission,” the statement said.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2018