Lahore: During a crackdown initiated against unregistered herbal companies after the expiry of date of application for registration their products on October 1,2014, over 70 herbal companies were sealed and around 69 people including pharmacists, company owners and others were apprehended during raids conducted by the Provincial Drug Inspectors.
These facts were disclosed by reliable sources associated with the Ministry of Health. The Health Bill for Alternative Medicines was created in 2012, the implementation of which started in May 2014. As many as 2700 herbal companies had applied for registration of their 85000 products while most including two major companies of herbal products did not apply to register their products.
As per the Herbal Bill, Provincial Drug Inspectors have recently launched a crackdown including raids at medical stores and offices of herbal firms to seize the unregistered products, and filling cases for prosecution in drug courts. However, on the other hand a Pharmaceutical Legal Expert for Drug Regulations of Ministry of Health and Media Coordinator of Pakistan Pharmacists Association(PPA), a renowned pharmacist Noor Muhammad Mahar while commenting on the crackdown said that there is a need for educating the drug inspectors regarding the implementation of Health Bill for Alternative Medicines 2012. The improper implementation of the Bill has caused some mismanagement issues due to which around 800 herbal companies have suspended or closed down their business,he claimed. He added that the 300 companies which had applied had also decided to close down their business due to misconception regarding the implementation of the Health Bill.In this way the national economy has sustained significant damage.
Being a renowned pharmacist and legal expert for Drug Regulation, Noor Mohammad Mahar offered his services to educate the health regulators through proper training so that correct implementation of the Health Bill could be ensured.
Under this Act, a punishment of imprisonment of 7-10 years along with a cash fine will be awarded to violators of the Herbal Act for non-registration of companies and their products. As per the Act, registration fee for a company is Rs.10,000 while for a medicine, the fee of registration is fixed at Rs 250-2,000.
It was learnt that over 30,000 herbal drugs and cosmetic production companies had been operating in the country without any registration and certification from the Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP). It was suggested by some relevant circles of pharmacy that the Government should set up a herbal research institution to develop the industry and educate the health regulators as Pakistan’s herbal exports have massive potential to occupy and dominate international market.
According to a survey conducted in 2004, treatment preference ratio from herbal medicines has reached 75 percent while allopathic treatment has been reduced to 25 percent. This rising trend of herbal treatment could mean significant export potential for Pakistani herbal companies after registration. DRAP will issue legal certification which is mandatory for export to Europe and other countries, explained the legal expert.