Pharmacists seek probe into drug import from India

Updated 13 May 2020

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'Therapeutic goods' made part of summary seeking import of cancer-fighting meds.   — AFP/File
'Therapeutic goods' made part of summary seeking import of cancer-fighting meds. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Pak­istan Young Pharmacist As­­sociation (PYPA) has written a letter to Special Assis­tant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar urging him to look into the import of over 450 medicines from India despite a ban.

They said the federal cabinet had been briefed that there was a shortage of medicines for cancer but a term “Therapeutic Goods” was included in the summary to allow all kinds of medicines, vitamins, syringes and even mustard oil.

Earlier, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif deman­ded investigation into the medicine scandal through a parliamentary committee.

He said if anything like this would have happened during the PML-N government, Imran Khan would have filed a treason case against the government.

Pakistan Peoples Party secretary general Nayyar Hussain Bukhari has also issued a statement demanding that a parliamentary body be formed to determine who was responsible for the multi-billion-rupee import of medicines from India despite a government ban.

In the letter, PYPA stated that in the mid of 2019, when Indian brutality cros­sed all limits in India-held Kashmir, Pakistan banned all types of trade with India.

However, a media campaign was launched that there was an acute shortage of life-saving medicines as its import had been stopped from India.

The campaign, the letter said, forced the federal government to allow import of cancer medicines etc. from India, but when the summary of the permission was sent to the commerce ministry by the Drug Regulatory Au­­thority of Pakistan (Drap), a term Therapeutic Goods was included, ins­tead of Life-Saving Drugs, in the summary and with just inclusion of Therapeutic Goods, import of all kinds of medicines was allowed from India.

The letter further alleged that earlier $85 million typhoid vaccine had also been imported from India without getting the approval of federal cabinet and despite the trade ban with India.

The cabinet, the letter said, had earlier refused to import dengue medicine from India.

PYPA general secretary Dr Furqan Ibrahim has offered his services to assist the inquiry.

In the letter, the PYPA also questioned why the government allowed to export masks while the country was facing its acute shortage due to Covid-19. It claimed that the whole nation has been suffering as masks are being sold at higher rates.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2020