ISLAMABAD - The Drug Regulatory Authority Bill 2012 will be presented in the Parliament soon as it has to be passed in the upcoming session next month before the lapse of the Drug Regulatory Agency of Pakistan (DRAP) Ordinance.

Minister for National Regulations and Services (MoNR&S) Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on National Regulations and Services here on Friday that the ordinance is going to lapse on October 15 and the bill must be passed in the upcoming session to give legal cover to the regulatory body. The committee met here on Friday.

The committee members discussed that Senator Abdul Haseeb Khan of MQM wants to present the bill as private member but it should be presented in the National Assembly by the Chairman of the NA Committee on MoNR&S Muhammad Usman Advocate as a government bill as the committee members have put in a lot of efforts to finalize the draft after various meetings and consultations that is at final stages.

CEO of DRAP and Joint Sectary of Ministry Arshad Farooq while giving a briefing to the committee on the pharmaceutical sector in the country informed that currently there is no mechanism to regulate the other treatment methods like Homeopathy and Tib-e-Unani but in the bill it has been proposed to introduce a system to keep a check on other treatment methods too. He said that the body has been facing the challenges of acquiring land for the construction of permanent offices, increasing the number of drug inspectors and enhancing their capacity and skills, establishment of new drug testing laboratories and upgradation of the existing laboratories.

He informed the ministry was allocated Rs 1 billion as seed money that has not been released yet.

He said that about 600 local and 100 multinational licensed manufacturing units of the pharmaceutical sector are working in the country and their total share in the economy is Rs 178.7 billion while their exports stand at $168 million that is quite low.

The minister informed the committee that pharmaceutical companies make financial contributions as part of their social responsibility and give their share for the Central Research Fund but the amount is not released to the ministry and Rs 800 million allocated in this regard to the ministry still lying idle with the government.

Firdous also informed that about 14,000 applications for the registration of medicines have been piled up in the ministry and a mechanism is being formulated to clear the backlog increased due to the devolution of the health ministry to the provinces.

She also informed that 64000 hakeem have been practicing ‘Hikmat’ in the country and of them 10,000 are registered. Besides, their training institutions and curriculum are also not registered or up to the standards.

Dr. Mahreen Razzaque Bhutto suggested an amendment in the law to only allow allopathic doctors to use the title of  ‘doctor’ before their names and those practicing Homeopathy and Tib-e-Unani should not be allowed to use the title with their names as it creates a lot of confusion.

Syed Akhonzada Chittan and Laiq Muhammad Khan pointed out the sale of spurious drugs and difference in the prices of same medicines manufactured by the different pharmaceutical companies. They said that the ministry should formulate a mechanism to rationalize the difference in the prices and raid the factories manufacturing spurious drugs.

Registrar Pakistan Medical and Dental Council Dr. Ahmad Nadeem Akbar also gave a briefing about the council to the committee. Dr. Lal Chand, Dr. Khatu Mal Jeewan and Rana Zahid Hussain Khan also attended the meeting.