Fate of draft Traditional Drugs Act hangs in balance

ISLAMABAD - The fate of Traditional Drugs Act is still hanging in the balance, as the Law Ministry has sent back the Draft Bill to the Ministry of Health by raising objections that it could not be taken up because the issue had become a provincial subject after passage of the 18th Amendment, TheNation has learnt. Earlier, responding to the pressing need of the National Council of Homeopathy and National Council of Tibb-e-Unani, the Ministry of Health had agreed to draft an independent traditional drugs act. According to well-placed sources in the Ministry, the negotiations of the Ministrys high ups with representatives of Homeopathic and Tibb Councils had produced result. The copy of the Draft Bill has been presented to the presidents of the both councils for consultation. The proposed traditional drugs bill titled Ayuvedic, Homeopathic, Biochemic and Herbal Medicine Act 2009 was also tabled before the Substanding Committee of the National Assembly to get approval. The proposed bill was formulated to regulate the manufacturer, import, export, shortage, distribution and sale of Tibb-e-Unani, Ayuvedic, homeopathic, biochemic and any other herbal medicine. The move was welcomed by the concerned quarters as till date there was no law that set restrictions or bindings on the sale and manufacturing for traditional medicines, which had resulted in sheer exploitation of innocent public on the name of homeopathic and 'hikmat medicines in Pakistan. The decision was made after the passage of 44 years that instead that a separate chapter should be added in the existing Drug Act 1976. Not only the councils rejected the suggestion, but also their pharmaceutical associations completely turned down the proposal thus the Ministry made the landmark decision to formulate draft separate traditional drugs act. Then again the Ministry while pressuring the councils tried to bring them around to accept the suggestion of Alternative Systems of Medicines, which was also not accepted by the both councils. While the both councils did not move even an inch from there demands that a separate conventional drugs act should be formulated on the pattern of Unani, Ayurvedic and Homeopathic Practitioners Act 1965. On the one hand, the representatives of both councils have appreciated the step but on the other hand, they are expressing grievances over the establishment of single board under the said drug act. We want a separate drugs board both for homeopathy and Tibb-e-Unai under the proposed drugs act, said Dr Mahmood-ul-Haq Abbasi President of National Council of Homeopathy while talking to TheNation. Formation of a single board for two separate medical systems would create confusion and mystification for the both councils, he further maintained.

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