Pakistan drug manufacturers make plea for oversight

In many countries, asking for more regulation of the pharmaceutical industry would seem like asking for trouble. But not in Pakistan, where a drug manufacturing scandal involving the deaths of more than 130 patients and the sickening of hundreds more has led the  industry to ask the government for oversight.

Pharma Bureau, an association of multinational pharmaceutical companies, sent a statement to the government saying an independent Drug Regularity Authority is needed to rebuild public trust and prevent episodes like the one playing out in Lahore. In that case, patients died after being treated at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, which reportedly gave them drugs received as a donation.

Following a meeting of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter of the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association, Riaz Arshad, the former chairman of the PPMA, told a Pakistani newspaper the pharmaceutical industry was the country's most-deregulated sector because there is no authority overseeing its operations.

"A mechanism to regulate drug manufacturing, registration, licensing, pricing, import and export and quality control of drugs is need of the hour, but the matter has remained in limbo," Arshad told The News International.

He said the industry is producing about 90% of the drugs used in Pakistan.

Gulf News said samples of drugs tested in Paris and London were reportedly contaminated with a very high quantity of an anti-malarial chemical. The plant where the drugs were believed to have been manufactured has been sealed.  

- read The News International story 
- check out the Gulf News story

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