ISLAMABAD - Asking provinces to follow the suit, Federal Minister for National Regulations & Services Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has warned to launch a crackdown within a week on medical stores selling substandard, spurious and fake drugs in the Federal Capital.

The minister while addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, said that the operation would start from Islamabad to set trend for provinces, adding the crackdown against medical stores is aimed to ensure that no fake, spurious and substandard medicine is being sold at the medical stores. Imtiaz Inayat Elahi, Federal Secretary, and other officials were also present on the occasion.

She maintained that it is the responsibility of the provinces to ensure that no fake or spurious drug is sold there. Another reason to launch the crackdown was to ensure that 92 drugs, whose prices have been reduced, are being sold at the cut prices.

‘The federal government has decided to introduce a comprehensive drug pricing policy and a mechanism to rationalize the prices of the life saving and other medicines.  And for the first time in the history of the country, prices of 92 medicines has been reduced substantially even to the extent of 400 percent in some cases. The formal notification to this effect has been issued’ she informed.

“We have set a trend for companies not to increase prices by their own will and without approval of the Regulator,” she added. She warned of dire consequences to those companies, which will not obey the orders of the Regulator.

The minister said that Hepatitis was still a big challenge for the country and asked the multinational and local companies to reduce prices of medicines used for the treatment of this fatal disease. Investment friendly policies are being introduced to fetch foreign investment in pharmaceutical sector.

 She was optimistic that investment in the said sector would generate job opportunities for Pakistanis.

Talking about the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC), she said that it was heading towards legislation for revival of the institutions. She said that it has been decided to register herbal medicines to ensure that no spurious or fake herbal medicine is being sold at the medical stores.

According to her, complaints were being received regarding the PMDC as 19 colleges were registered with it and the inspection of 19 medical and dental colleges is being carried out.

She deplored that DRA lacks facilities to check authenticity of the drugs. Thus, it has been decided to upgrade drug-testing lab and PC-I has been approved while funding is underway. She said that Rs 215 million have been sought from the Planning Commission for the project.

She informed that the Drug Regulation Authority Ordinance has been amended in consultation with the stakeholders and has been forwarded to the relevant house committee and it would be presented in the next session to make it a law.

She said that Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA) is the prime regulator to fix prices of the medicines and necessary amendments have been made in consultation with all stakeholders to enforce Drug Act after approval from the Parliament. Necessary changes have been made in the Drug Act 1997 and the bill would be tabled and passed during the upcoming session. She was of the view that comprehensive legislation was vital for cheaper and standard medicines.