Govt making efforts to combat spurious drugs: Tarar

Islamabad - Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar Thursday said that the government was making efforts to combat the menace of spurious, substandard and counterfeit drugs. She was addressing the inaugural ceremony of a seminar on “Eradication of spurious drugs in the country” in Islamabad. She said the federal government strongly supports and encourage activities to curb the sale of substandard and fake drugs.
She said the pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan is capable of producing all kinds of quality pharmaceutical dosage forms. The gap between the local manufacture and the imports has been reduced to a significant level.
She said it is not difficult to visualise that in the coming years only such enterprises will survive and grow which have strong research and development footings. Unfortunately, the performance of our pharmaceutical industries in the research and development of new drugs or making new inventive improvements over the existing ones or developing of new dosage forms has been very disappointing. This is the right time that the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association should takes steps for the performance of its professional duties and set up a Centre of Excellence for Research and Development in this sector.  
She said the government is fully conscious to upgrade the Drug Testing Laboratories particularly priority is being given to WHO accreditation of Central Drug Laboratory (CDL), Karachi and National Control Laboratory for Biological (NCLB), Islamabad with the help of WHO.
She informed that the building of Federal Drug Surveillance Laboratory (FDSL) building would be handed over back to the Laboratory and a state-of-the-art laboratory of international standards will soon be functional. Quality Management System workshops have been organised and the capacity building of the staff is given prime importance.  She said the advent of WTO era has exposed our Pharma industry to a tough competition both at the domestic as well as international fronts. “Therefore, we must invest more in the human capital, especially for capacity building with the objective of developing a well educated and trained work force capable of producing quality drugs for domestic and International market,” she added.
She said the federal government strongly supports and encourages such activities, which in fact augment the efforts. “The Health Ministry has been making for past few years in combating the menace of spurious, substandard and counterfeit drugs,” she added.
She said the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has seriously accepted the task of combating the mafia involved in the manufacturing of spurious and substandard medicines in the country. All the field offices of DRAP in the different provinces have been asked to keep a strict watch on this criminal trade. The DRAP with FIA and other law enforcement agencies had decided to take an urgent initiative to get whole of the criminals involved in this trade eliminated to safe guard public at large.
She said the retail outlets are the main source for the sale of spurious drugs and subject of sale is mainly monitored by the Provincial Governments. The Inter Provincial Quality Control Vigilance Committee (QCVM) has been constituted for this very purpose. Actions have been started against manufacturers who were found involved in the production of substandard, spurious and un-registered drugs.
The DRAP is working on zero tolerance policy for all such cases.  Training has been given to our Federal Inspectors of Drugs with the help of WHO. The ministry in collaboration with international organisations like WHO and other International Health Partners has undertaken a number of programmes to strengthen and upgrade the technical manpower in the areas of manufacturing, quality control, storage and dispensing of drugs.
Good governance in medicines is another project started by the ministry of which first phase has been completed successfully and now Pakistan is one of the few countries who have accepted this challenge to promote transparency in the fields of registration, licensing, pricing, manufacturing of medicines and its post marketing surveillance, she added.

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