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ISLAMABAD, Sept 14: A two-member committee of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in a meeting at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) on Friday showed concern over easy availability of controlled drugs at medical stores and private hospitals.

An official, representing the federal government in meeting, said: “A senior ranking official of the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and two INCB members were briefed by the management of the Pims hospital over the supply of controlled drugs at the pharmacy of the hospital.”

He said the INCB officials were satisfied with the supply of the controlled drugs to public hospitals but showed serious concern over their availability at local stores and a few private hospitals,” said the official.

It is pertinent to mention that INCB officials are here to investigate the ephedrine scam involving key government functionaries.

Abnormally high ephedrine quota was distributed among a number of national pharmaceutical companies which is now being probed by the ANF.

The official said that INCB members were due to visit Pakistan a month back.

“One of the members of the INCB also questioned as to why the use of controlled drugs in Pakistan is lesser than rest of the world,” one official quoted them as saying.

“We have told them that unlike Europe or developed nation in Pakistan every individual does not enjoy medical insurance so the demand is very limited,” maintained one physician at the Pims hospital.

The official said that stricter control mechanism of controlled drugs in public hospitals often leave patients in trouble since the drugs are not easily available because of a number of checks placed by the government.

“The morphine drug is often used by cardiac patients but it is given to the patients if it is prescribed by the doctors. However, sometimes doctors failed to have a complete data of patient so there is possibility of drug abuse but it’s almost limited in public hospitals,” remarked the physician.

Another administration official added that the INCB officials suggested awareness among the masses specifically about the usage of controlled drugs.

“The INCB members were also showed concern over the availability of psychotropic drugs, capable of affecting minds and emotions of the patients, and suggested the officials to bring in more preventive measures against easy availability of these drugs,” maintained the official.

A senior pharmacy official at one of the public hospitals said the government had no strict regulations over the sale of controlled drugs at the stores and the regulation matter rests with the government not with the public health practitioners.

Despite multiple attempts the spokesman for the Pims and the executive director of the hospital Prof Mahmood Jamal were not available to comment on INCB’s meeting held at the Pims administration block.