ISLAMABAD: As the country grapples with the shortage of paracetamol amid a dip in production owing to a deadlock between the government and the pharma industry over the pricing issue, the Pakistan Young Pharmacist Association (PYPA) on Saturday urged the government to conduct an audit of a controlled substance used in the production of the over-the-counter medicine.

Acetic anhydride, a substance used to prepare paracetamol painkillers, is highly coveted in the black market and could fetch a handsome price. It is also used to convert morphine into heroin, PYPA official Dr Furqan Ibrahim told Dawn.

“This chemical is manufactured in huge quantity in Pakistan and a quota of acetic anhydride to synthesise paracetamol is allocated. If the complete quota of acetic anhydride is being used, then why is the drug not available in the market,” he asked.

Claims paracetamol ‘deliberately disappeared’ from the market to increase price

However, if the production of the drug is on halt this means that acetic anhydride is not being fully used, he added. “Investigators should look into it and find out what is going on as the country had already faced embarrassment when the issue of ephedrine was highlighted,” he said.

As per a letter written to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif by PYPA General Secretary Dr Furqan Ibrahim, millions were struggling amid outbreaks of dengue,diarrhoea, Covid-19, malaria, scabies and typhoid but there were no medicines available in the market.

“The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap), instead of ensuring free medicines, has failed to ensure availability of life-saving drugs,” it stated.

The association alleged that paracetamol was “deliberately disappeared” from the market to increase the price of the medicine.

In its letter, it sought the intervention of the Anti-Narcotic Force (ANF) to start an audit of the raw materials, especially the controlled substance required to produce paracetamol. It also suggested that the government may do compulsory licensing and take control of the factories of companies that have stopped producing paracetamol.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Health Services, in a statement, claimed that a crackdown against spurious drugs was underway across the country. The ministry stated that warehouses containing “unregistered and spurious medicines” were sealed in Karachi, Peshawar, Islamabad as well as other cities.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2022

Opinion

Elite politics

Elite politics

For most part, Pakistan’s fractious politics has seen fierce govt-opposition conflict and mutual efforts to upend each other.

Editorial

Extension legacy
Updated 05 Dec, 2022

Extension legacy

The practice of having individuals carry on well beyond their time is up.
Dodging accountability
05 Dec, 2022

Dodging accountability

A WARNING carried in these pages in August appears to have gone completely unheeded. Months ago, as the government...
Double standards
05 Dec, 2022

Double standards

IN a globalised world, if states fail to protect the human rights of their citizens, or worse, participate in ...
Retracted offer
04 Dec, 2022

Retracted offer

WITH so many U-turns under his belt, it was hardly surprising when on Saturday, PTI chairman Imran Khan decided to...
Embassy attack
Updated 04 Dec, 2022

Embassy attack

The Taliban should have enhanced the existing security arrangements.
Smog season
04 Dec, 2022

Smog season

FOR the past week, major cities of Pakistan have been among the top most polluted cities in the world. Lahore ranked...