THIS is with reference to the news item titled ‘Drap stopped from utilising research fund to construct its building’ (Oct 10).
According to the news item, a Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) official proposed that one billion rupees of research fund collected from the pharma industry for research on drugs lying unutilised for years may be used for the construction of the Drap building. For research in drugs, the government made it mandatory under Drug Research Rules in 1978 for all licenced manufacturers to contribute one percent of their gross profit towards the Central Research Fund.
According to Drap officials, this fund has remained unutilised for years and has reached over one billion rupees and nobody bothers to utilise it.
As per drug laws, this research fund is strictly to be used for research and development, clinical trials, and related drug issues.
If it remained unutilised, it was the function and responsibility of Drap under the Drap Act, to issue guidelines and monitor the enforcement and implementation of internationally recognised standards, including clinical trials and use of research funds.
It is strange that the Higher Education Commission and other research organisations were unaware of this fund.
Now when the present government is keen to bring improvements in the health sector, it will perhaps be advisable to utilise this fund for the evaluation of traditional herbal medicines being marketed and used to authenticate their use or otherwise.
These medicines offer a good potential for the development of new drugs. Priority should be given to research on clinical trials of newly introduced/registered drug molecules to safeguard public health.
Dr Inamul Haq
Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2019