LAHORE With the Federal Government making efforts to retain the control of health sector and the Punjab Government thinking otherwise, all powerful pharmaceutical companies have put their weight behind the idea of continuing with the existing setup, TheNation has learnt. Health is one of the Departments devolved to the provinces as per the 18th Amendment, but the Federal Government has proposed the constitution of a Drugs Regulatory Authority to look after the matters relating to licencing, registration and pricing of drugs, thus putting a serious hurdle in the way of devolution of the subject to the Punjab government. The other provinces have already shown disinterest in the subject, thus leaving only one province (Punjab) to stick to the stance of taking over the control of the health sector from the Centre. The registration board of the federal health ministry issued licenses to 34 new companies in its last meeting held about 15 days back in a haste and without fulfilling the necessary obligation of giving 20 complimentary drugs to each of them. On the other hand, the Punjab government neither carried out legislation nor shown seriousness after the passage of 18th amendment to look after the affairs of health, thus giving room to the federal government to continue the existing set up with complete backing of the major stakeholders including the pharmaceutical companies. In the recent past, Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa rejected a summary forwarded by the Chief Minister for promulgation of an Ordinance to adopt the Drugs Act 1976, taking plea that the Federal Government had proposed the constitution of the DRA that would work under the Cabinet Division. The matters falling within the domain of the Drugs Act 1976, being covered within the Federal purview, the issuance of the proposed Ordinance would not fall in the realm of the province, the Governor contended. The insiders believe that both the federal and the government were interested in keeping or taking control of health as it is a sources of huge revenue in a single head of registration fee of drugs. According to the insiders, powerful pharmaceutical companies do not want devolution of health as they enjoy good links and proper say in the federal ministry and they will need to make a fresh start if subject is devolved to the provinces. The present setup is suitable for them especially during the process of fixing prices of drugs. Moreover, running the affairs through a remote control in Islamabad suits pharmaceutical companies as control at the provincial metropolis can make it difficult for them to continue keeping wide gap between real and the retail price of various drugs. Parliamentary Health Secretary Dr Saeed Elahi says that the mafia was opposing devolution of the health sector to the provinces. He says that the Centre has registered over 55,000 drugs so far while the numbers in the US were only 5,000. Referring to the refusal of the Punjab Governor to promulgate the Ordinance, Dr Saeed Elahi says that the constitutional head of the province has not acted according to the law. The Governor has soft corner for corruption which is evident from his act of allowing the mafia to loot public, he said on Monday. Opposing the idea of devolving health to the federating units, former Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association president and convenor of the Standing Committee on Pharma of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Amjad Ali Java said on Monday that the move would not only hamper working of companies but would also prove harmful for the patients. He said that the companies would need separate registration in every federating unit and different prices of one drug would encourage smuggling. He said that all the provinces, with the only exception of Punjab, have already given their consent to keep registration, licensing and pricing of drugs with the centre. He suggested the Punjab government to follow the suit and ask Centre to keep the health subject. He said that the provinces lacked resources to check quality of medicine.