No restriction on importing Indian drugs in Pakistan: DRAP

Illustration shows various medicine pills in their original packing. — Reuters/ file
Illustration shows various medicine pills in their original packing. — Reuters/ file
  • DRAP says working on publishing the list of unavailable medicines.
  • It has set up cell for addressing complaints about drug shortages.
  • Authority says imports can be made after obtaining NOC.

ISLAMABAD: The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) Thursday said that there was no restriction on hospitals or the common man on importing vital medicines (anti-cancer drugs and vaccines) from India for their own use under the Import Policy Order 2022 after obtaining no objection certificate (NOC) from the authority, The News reported.

The statement of the DRAP officials came during a session of the Senate Standing Committee on Health wherein Senator Professor Mehr Taj Roghani raised the issue of the unavailability of several essential medicines in the country.

“In view of unavailability of some essential medicines in Pakistan, common people and hospitals can apply for an NOC to directly import medicines from India. Currently, there is no ban on import of any drug from India under the Import Policy Order 2022,” DRAP officials told the forum.

During the session, Senator Roghani said that doctors from Sindh and other provinces had sent her a long list of medicines, including Heparin and other drugs used for the treatment of neurological, psychiatric illnesses, vaccines and different other biological products which were unavailable in Pakistan.

DRAP officials responded that the authority had launched a countrywide survey of unavailable medicines and asked their field force across the country to report all the important medicines not available at the healthcare facilities.

In its written response to the Senate Standing Committee on Health, the DRAP said it was working on publishing the list of unavailable medicines with contact details on its official website, which would be updated on periodic basis based upon real-time market surveillance.

“A committee has been constituted by the DRAP, which has been assigned the task to monitor shortages of drugs in the market. The above committee is dealing with the issue on consistent and regular basis. Similarly, through an online application for NOC to DRAP, people and hospitals can import medicines from any country, including India, for personal use,” the written response said.

Similarly, DRAP had also set up a complaint management cell for resolution of complaints on drugs shortage, it said, adding that the people facing such problems can call on DRAP’s helpline 0800-03727 and send an email to [email protected]. DRAP has also persuaded local manufacturers to produce eight medicines, which were previously not registered in Pakistan or were not available due to price escalation.

“DRAP has expeditiously processed the registration applications of those medicines, which are not unavailable in the market. Recently, medicines like Heparin, Isoflurane and Sevoflurane were registered on priority basis,” the reply added.

Responding to the DRAP, Senator Humayun Mohmand said: “We must praise DRAP for its efforts to ensure availability of medicines in the country,” adding that during the Covid-19 pandemic, DRAP took minutes and hours to allow essential medicines and vaccines for critically sick patients.

The Senate Standing Committee and Ministry of Health officials also asked Senator Roghani to introduce amendments to an existing law regarding treatment of injured persons instead of presenting a new bill.

The Ministry of Health officials opposed “Pakistan Opportunistic Screening and Treatment of Hypertension Bill 2023,” presented by Senator Sania Nishtar, who argued that every third adult Pakistani was hypertensive but majority of people were undiagnosed in Pakistan.

“Through this bill, I propose that every person, who visits a healthcare provider or health counter in the country, should be screened for hypertension,” Senator Dr Sania Nishtar said.

Senator Mohmand said he was in favour of mandatory screening for hypertension but this should be regulated through the healthcare regulatory authority in the capital and healthcare commissions in the province.

He advised Dr Nishtar to brief the committee along with some experts on the importance of opportunistic screening during the next meeting. Nishtar said she, along with experts from the World Health Organisation and other organisations, would give a briefing on the importance of opportunistic screening and WHO guidelines in this regard.

The Senate Standing Committee also discussed the issue of elections and registration of members of the National Council for Homeopathy (NCH) and directed the Ministry of Health officials to look into the matter.


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