The Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered the deputy attorney general to address the status of the applications that were moved to the federal health ministry for registration – allegedly pending since 2007 – by unregistered chemists and drug companies, on Friday.
A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, heard the petition. The law foundation, through its chairman, approached the SHC to take action against unregistered companies engaged in the import, distribution and sale of disposable syringes.
Petitioner advocate Javed Ahmed Siddiqui said that unregistered companies were importing substandard surgical kits, including syringes, cannulas, and drip sets. This was the major cause of the spread of fatal diseases such as HIV aids and hepatitis B and C.
He submitted that the federal health ministry, by issuing an SRO on April 19, declared disposable syringes and sets for the collection or transfusion of blood, or giving any infusion under the category of drugs, under the Drug Act 1976. In 2007, the health ministry declared the registration of drug manufacturing units, importers and exporters as mandatory to ensure implementation on the directives issued by the Lahore High Court on November 30. But later the ministry extended the deadline till October 10, 2009.
He contended that the respondents, in violation of the official notification, again extended the deadline till March 31, 2011 and then till May 31, 2011. He stated that despite the lapse of many years, the respondent health ministry failed to register such importers and exporters. He asked to declare these extensions as having no lawful authority.
On Friday, Advocate Qazi Khalid Ali for the respondent Pakistan Chemists and Druggists Association submitted that the members had moved their applications to the secretary and DG federal health ministry for registration, but they were still pending. He stated that the health ministry was obliged under law (under sub-rule 9 of rule 24 of the Drug (licensing, registration and authority) rules 1976) to decide them within one month, but had been delaying the process since 2007. DAG Ashiq Raza asked the secretary and DG federal health ministry as to the status of such applications. Adjourning the hearing for two weeks upon request, the SHC division bench directed the DAG to put the information on record.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2011.