Sale of fake & expired medicines flourishing


Companies involved in trade of counterfeit medicines to be blacklisted’

ZULFIQAR AHMAD

ISLAMABAD : Denying manufacture, stock pilling and selling expired or spurious drugs, federal health minister Makhdoon Shahabuddin has vowed to crush all those found involved in supply of counterfeit medicines. Winding up debate on manufacturing of spurious drugs, in the Upper House on Tuesday, he pledged to blacklist pharmaceutical companies or individuals found involved in trade of expired or counterfeit medicines.

“We are totally against such malpractice and will blacklist any person proved guilty of resorting to this heinous crime. To ensure the implementation, he added, vigilant laws would be put in place for selecting drug inspectors on purely merit basis, besides offering them good pay packages including perks and privileges to root out the menace from the country.

The health minister informed the Senate that his ministry tested samples of 40,000 medicines, of which only 0.045 per cent were spurious, however, concerted efforts are needed to eradicate the illicit trade once for all.

Senator Harron Akhter said that qualified drug inspectors should be appointed on merit basis to control the use of fake and spurious medicines in the country, whereas licenses should not be issued other than qualified pharmacists to plug this loophole.

Tangible steps need to be taken against the manufacture and sale of substandard drugs otherwise people would have to pay the price in terms of their health and even, in some cases, life. Senator Simeen Siddqui said that the government should initiate awareness campaign about spurious drugs, which are posing a serious health hazard. She also called upon the government to ban the sale of counterfeit drugs especially in remote and far flung areas of the country.

There should be complete ban on advertisements on TV as these spurious medicines cause tens of thousands of deaths each year. Senator Abdul Khaliq Peerzda said that fake medicines pose a major public health problem across the country, particularly in rural areas.

The sale of fake drugs is flourishing which is an extremely alarming trend, said Perrzada, warning that the whole nation will pay the price if proper attention was not given to health sector.

Senator Mushahidullah said that drug inspectors should concentrate on unearthing the units involved in manufacturing and marketing of spurious drugs, as there is no mechanism in place to catch the culprits, playing with the lives of innocent public. Senator Fauzia Fakhr-uz-Zaman noted that India had made great strides in the medical sector, while Pakistan has to go a long way in ensuring that the common man getting up to the mark and affordable medical care.

She said that a number of people from different countries of the world, including Pakistan go to India for the treatment but it is really a matter of concern that we have not been able to control sale of counterfeit drugs in more than sixty years.

Published in Business Recorder on (April 07 2010)

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