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Draft bill: no medicine without prescription

November 09, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Nov 9: The Ministry of Regulations and Services is working on a draft bill under which chemists in the federal capital will not be allowed to sell medicines without prescription, Dawn has learnt.

Currently, medical stores across the city are selling drugs on the request of customers and a very few of them demand prescriptions from them.

“We will be coming up with the draft bill very soon and present it in the parliament so Islamabad could become a model city where drugs could be sold to only those having valid prescriptions,” said Federal Minister for Regulations Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan while talking to Dawn.

She said according to the draft of the Citizens Rights Protection Bill, the chemists would maintain a complete record of drugs sold on prescriptions.

When contacted, Islamabad’s district health officer Dr Ahzar added: “The ICT administration is dealing with all drug-related issues under the Punjab drug rules. After devolution, the local courts have not been giving us any legal cover in drug cases as under the 18th amendment every province has to devise its own drug rules.”

He said the draft bill was a step to regain the powers lost under the Drug Act 1976. Dr Azhar added that under the old rules, chemists were not allowed to sell drugs without prescriptions.

However, the minister said pharmaceutical companies’ record relating to sale of drugs would also be documented to ensure transparency and keep an eye on supply and demand of drugs.

Dr Awan said the new draft bill after approval from parliament would also help in keeping a record of sale of controlled drugs.

It may be noted that on September 15, a two-member committee from the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in a meeting at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) showed its concerns over easy availability of controlled drugs at medical stores and some private hospitals.

The INCB officials were satisfied with the supply of the controlled drugs to public hospitals but expressed concern over its availability at the stores and a few private hospitals.

Dr Awan said: “All the stakeholders like chemists, pharmaceutical companies and citizens will be taken on board before my ministry gives a final shape to the draft bill.”

In reply to a question, she expressed the hope that the government would ensure the passage of the bill in early January.

The minister said at a later stage the provincial governments would also implement the regulations in their respective provinces to ensure public safety.

Earlier, briefing mediapersons about the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, the minister said it was the key to regulate the manufacture, import, storage, distribution, sale and advertisement of therapeutic goods which included pharmaceutical drugs, alternative or traditional medicines, biological and medical devices.

She said the establishment of DRAP Act was aimed at protecting the interest of the patients and the pharmaceutical industry.

The minister claimed that DRAP was designed on the pattern of regulatory authorities in advanced countries like the US and Canada.