'40% of all medicines in Pakistan are fake'
KARACHI: Counterfeit drugs constitute 40 to 50 percent of all medicines available in Pakistan and according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Pakistanis spend 77 percent of their household health budgets on medicines half of which may be fake or unfit for human consumption.
This was stated by PMA Secretary General Dr Qaiser Sajjad who added that the government needs to seriously work to control the production and sale of counterfeit medicines in Pakistan, which is currently ranked 13th in the world for the practice.
This was stated during a seminar on "The menace of fake/counterfeit drugs in Pakistan" organized by the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Karachi and Helpline Trust on Wednesday.
He said that counterfeit drugs pose serious social and enormous implications.
Dr Sajjad said that in British House of Commons, a member of the British parliament Charles Walker identified Pakistan as a country where counterfeit medicines were produced.
Suggesting measures to overcome the problem, he said the public should know basic ways of identifying counterfeit medicines and the ministry of health should start awareness campaigns, continuing education and refresher courses for those involved in the pharmaceutical trade.
Anti-counter techniques should be enforced and more quality drug testing laboratories should be set up.
Shaukat Hayat, an advocate, said that an organization similar to an anti-narcotic force should be established to counter the menace of fake medicines. "It is ironic that a person arrested with 100 grams of heroin can not be bailed while an individual with a truckload of counterfeit drugs cannot even be arrested."
He demanded effective legislation and enforcement of stringent measures for the culprits involved in production and sale of counterfeit medicines.
Deputy Director General Federal Health ministry Dr Akbar Sial rebutted the allegations of the availability of counterfeit medicines in the market, saying the situation was not as serious as depicted by some elements. He claimed that Pakistani medicines were now exported to more than 52 countries of the globe, which is ample proof of the quality and standard maintained by local pharmaceutical companies.
Terming the situation serious, Prof. Tipu Sultan, former principal of Dow Medical College (DMC), claimed that the manufacturers of fake drugs had now started even exporting these medicines. According to him, several factories were operating in suburban areas of Karachi, adding that all agencies deputed with the task to keep vigil over illegal trade had ignored the task.
Additional Secretary Technical Sindh Health Department Capt. Majid admitted that the fake medicines were available in the market, saying so far 27 such medicines were recovered during raids.
He said that a majority of such medicines were manufactured in other cities from where they were shifted to Karachi.