ISLAMABAD: Subcommittee of the Senate Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation recently showed concerns over sale of expired medicines and directed the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to ensure that the expiry date is clearly mentioned on medicine.
The committee, chaired by National Party Senator, Dr Ashok Kumar, also directed the drug regulatory body to increase the number of drug inspectors to ensure quality of medicines.
Earlier, during a briefing, a representative of DRAP told the committee that the authority was established in 2012 at the centre.
However, after the 18th Amendment, DRAP was devolved to provinces but, after the incident of Punjab Institute of Cardiology in which a number of heart patients died due to some impurity in medicine, the authority was again handed over to the federal government, he said.
There were 640 employees of DRAP and out of them 190 were technical persons.
“Earlier, there were 12 drug inspectors but now the number has increased to 30 and in Islamabad there are three drug inspectors,” Dr Ashok said.
There is one drug inspector for 20 pharmaceutical units as there are 619 units in Pakistan.
“Earlier, there were four divisions of DRAP but now they have been increased to 13,” Kumar added.
Independent Senator Dr Asad Ashraf said he purchased a medicine manufactured by a well known company, but when he opened a blister pack he found half tablet in it.
“A large number of expired medicines are sold in Pakistan and the expiry date is deliberately written so vague and unclear that no one can read it. Therefore, DRAP should ensure that the expiry should be clearly mentioned on a pack,” he said.
Another Independent Senator Mir Mohammad Yousaf Badini suggested that a helpline should be established so that people could register their complaints regarding medicines.
Committee also directed to ensure that the names and direction on medicines should also be written in Urdu so that common people could understand it.
The committee was also informed that there were 11 testing labs in Pakistan but only two of them were certified by World Health Organisation (WHO).
However it was claimed that within one year 50pc of the labs would be certified by WHO.
The committee chairman directed the DRAP to give a detailed briefing that why Drug Pricing Policy, which was announced in 2015, was amended in 2018.
He also said that temperature had to be maintained during transportation of medicines but in Pakistan no one cares about it. He directed DRAP to ensure that the temperature of medicines was maintained through modern distribution vans.
Though the Human Organ Transplant Authority was also included in the agenda of the meeting, members decided to discuss it next time.