ISLAMABAD: A case has been registered with the Model Customs Collectorate against the owner of a pharmacy chain in the capital as well as his partner after smuggled goods and banned medicines were allegedly recovered from the pharmacy’s godown.

Additional Customs Collector Ayesha Wani told Dawn that no one had been arrested so far and both the people nominated in the FIR were in hiding. She said two raids had been carried out so far, both unsuccessful.

She said Rs12 million worth of smuggled items were recovered from the go-down during a raid by Islamabad Customs on Nov 23.

A case was registered with the Model Customs Collectorate in response to a complaint lodged by Inspector Azhar Hussain Jaffari from the Customs Preventive Division on various charges under the Customs Act.

A Customs team raided the pharmacy chain’s Arya Mohallah godown last week in response to a tip regarding the presence smuggled foreign items, including cosmetic products, according to the FIR. The raiding team found two people at the go-down, the owner and a partner.

The FIR said the team found a large quantity of smuggled foreign items, including perfumes and cosmetics, as well as dietary supplements and vitamins. It added that the supplements and vitamins were lying out in the open without observing safety precautions, and while they bore a manufacturing date of Oct 2, 2017, they did not mention any expiration date.

Customs officials seized 142 kilogrammes of vitamin tablets of unknown origin in unlabelled bottles, the FIR said. The tablets were banned under the Import Policy Order.

In addition, it said, 48kg of tablets were found in unsealed plastic bottles and are suspected of being spurious.

The FIR speculated that these items were likely smuggled and counterfeit, adding that plastic bottles, caps and seals from various multivitamin brands were also recovered.

The recovered items were shifted to the Customs Islamabad godown for further legal action, it said.

According to Ms Wani, the suspects failed to provide any evidence that the import or possession of these goods was legal.

Samples of the vitamins were sent to the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) to investigate suspicious that they were expired or spurious, she added.

Joint teams from the capital administration, Customs and Drap are inspecting pharmacies in the capital and have checked 35pc of stores so far.

A capital administration official told Dawn that all the chain pharmacies in the capital were inspected. Drap is collecting samples of medicines, vitamins and food supplements from these stores to test them, he said.

The official said expired or spurious medicines, vitamins and food supplements have not been found anywhere so far. However, some items – including supplements, vitamins, cosmetics and perfumes – were found at eight outlets that were confiscated by Customs on the suspicious that they may have been smuggled.

The owners of the outlets failed to produce import documents, he said, and told Customs that they were retailers who bought imported items from distributors.

The official said the owners were given time to arrange import documents from distributors and produce them before Customs. The details of the distributors were also collected to check their documents.

Separately, a pharmaceutical factory in Chakra, Rawalpindi, was sealed and medicines were seized for violating the Drap Act.

The factory was raided by Drugs Controller Naveed Anwar, Federal Inspector Drugs II Khalid Mahmood and Deputy Drugs Controller Jawad Ehsaan.

According to Mr Anwar, the factory was allegedly improved in illegally producing various therapeutic medications. Smuggled items were also found at the factory, which has been sealed by the authority.

The factory owner did not possess Form 7, which is a provincial government certificate to manufacture medicines from the government’s approved list, he said.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2019