Under the influence: Inspectors accuse lawmakers of interference in drugstore raids

Claim sealed shops were opened soon after raiding teams dispersed


Umer Farooq April 03, 2016
PHOTO: REUTERS

PESHAWAR:


If the abundant sale of substandard or expired medicines is not alarming enough, drug inspectors are now complaining some lawmakers are protecting those involved in this illegal trade. The drug inspectors have accused MPAs of creating hurdles for raiding parties.


The illegal, not to mention harmful, business is continuing unabated. This is evident from the recent raids conducted by drug inspectors who sealed dozens of shops in the provincial capital, only for them to reopen shortly afterwards.

Teams were formed after a detailed meeting which was attended by drug inspectors, district administration officials, the provincial health minister and the newly-appointed health secretary. Following this meeting, the operation was launched.

During this official action in various areas of the provincial capital, inspectors raided shops selling illegal medicines in Board Bazaar and Namak Mandi. Also, shopkeepers dealing in medicines solely meant for hospital use were taken into custody.

Escape route

The drugs inspectors said they failed to see the writ of the government as the sealed shops opened up soon after raiding parities dispersed.



They complained around  10 shops sealed in Board Bazaar reopened within hours.

“It was decided in the meeting to launch an effective operation against illegal drugs in the provincial capital, but I wonder how a shopkeeper can break the seal and reopen stores,” senior provincial drug inspector Syed Wilayat Shah questioned while talking to The Express Tribune.

Misappropriation

He said besides the illegal business, some people were caught red-handed, selling medicines meant for hospitals only. “Above all, the drugs were also being smuggled to Afghanistan.”

He said majority of the business owners did not even understand the “ABC of the pharmacy”, but ran medical stores. The official pointed out some of the stores were functioning without licences.

Shah claimed political party members and even MPAs had been creating hurdles for the operation. “We were fed up with union bodies as they hold protests and try to free those arrested for selling these medicines. Now, political figures are adding to the problems,” Shah said.

He stated a raid was conducted on Friday when people were arrested and shops were sealed for trading in ‘not for sale’ medicines and exporting the same to Afghanistan. He alleged that PTI MPA Javed Naseem later reached Namak Mandi and tried to influence drug inspectors.

However, Shah vowed he and his associates would continue to perform their job without fear.

Deputy Commissioner Riaz Mehsud and Javed MPA Naseem could not be reached despite repeated attempts.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th,  2016.

 

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