Sri Lanka bans import of Pakistani medicines

Published: February 2, 2012
Export of locally-manufactured medicines had surged to over $400 million over the last two years.

Export of locally-manufactured medicines had surged to over $400 million over the last two years.


Following the PIC medicine debacle, Sri Lanka has banned the import of medicines from Pakistan — a move that would badly hurt the export of locally-manufactured medicines, which had surged to over $400 million over the last two years.

The health ministry of Sri Lanka has taken the decision after over 100 people died due to alleged spurious medicines in Lahore. It was further revealed that more countries – including Vietnam, Burma, Philippines, and Yemen as well as countries from Africa and South America – are also considering reviewing their policies to import medicines from Pakistan.

Sri Lanka suspended the sale and use of Pakistani-manufactured Isosorbide Mononitrate 20 mg drug, used for chest pains, said a senior doctor of the National Cancer Institute of Sri Lanka.

“Isosorbide mononitrate, generally called ISMN, is a drug used principally in the treatment of angina pectoris in Sri Lanka,” he told The Express Tribune from Colombo. Government hospitals in Sri Lanka usually prescribe ISMN, which dilates blood vessels to reduce blood pressure, he explained.

“Our ministry took the decision for safety reasons following reports of the recent deaths from a heart-related drug in Pakistan,” he said, requesting not to be named.

Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) officials also expressed concern over the lingering of the spurious drugs issue, which could stagnate exports if the federal government does not take immediate steps to control the situation.

On the other hand, officials dealing with the issue revealed that the government was deliberating putting around 12 drugs on the import ban list. However, the final decision will be taken after taking into account the investigation reports received from abroad, added an official of the Punjab Health Ministry.

“The government should form a drug regulatory authority in pursuance of better and effective marketing strategies to improve the image and push the export figures up,” the PPMA chairman said.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s senior advisor Senator Pervez Rashid criticised the federal government for its failure to constitute a drug regulatory authority at the centre. “An international laboratory should be built in Pakistan to test medicines,” Rashid said.

Islamabad is issuing 32 licences to pharmaceutical companies on a daily basis, the senator revealed. “So, this is the main reason which led to the use and distribution of substandard medicines.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (31)

  • Mard-e-Haq
    Feb 2, 2012 - 6:45AM

    Soon, our sole export would be jihadi fighters. We are no 1 in the world for that.


  • John B
    Feb 2, 2012 - 7:37AM

    Still people think that the company should be left open and it is a conspiracy against the company?

    Somewhere along the pipeline at the company level someone was sleeping. How PAK handles this episode will reflect how trustworthy the manufacturing process is in PAK.

    It only needs one rotten apple.


  • Feb 2, 2012 - 7:57AM

    So whr are these Lankans going to get medicines from???India…??
    As if Indian pharma is better than Pak…we’re the lowest cost producer of high quality medicines in this world and our R&D is vastly superior to Indian drugs….Recommend

  • Hafiz Shah Ali
    Feb 2, 2012 - 8:06AM

    This step is a logical step from a country that cares for it’s citizens.

    I want to know why the drug testing labs in Pakistan did noy detect this.All in those labs should be fired!


  • Lobe
    Feb 2, 2012 - 8:51AM

    Right across the face…good one


  • khan
    Feb 2, 2012 - 9:01AM

    now others will follow .. soon that 400 million will reduce to 4 million. This was expected… so much for our “pharma industry”… they can get pass in this country by selling wrong medicines to 90% of population which are uneducated, dirt poor, hungry, debt ridden and unhealthy but other countries will not tolerate this nonsense.


  • Feb 2, 2012 - 9:33AM

    What do you expect them to do? Sleep over it? Not every country is run like Pakistan you know.


  • Blithe
    Feb 2, 2012 - 9:35AM

    And why would they not?!?!

    The 18th amendment has created so much needless
    confusion around regulation.

    And what the Federal government is doing is criminal negligence –
    how can so many licenses be frivolously issued???


  • Sajjad Hussain
    Feb 2, 2012 - 9:42AM

    Lack of quality control,incompetent and corrupt drug testing laboratories and finally spurious and poisonous medicines killing over 120 patients in the Punjab and God knows in other parts of Pakistan.WHO’s directive advising against import of medicines from Pakistan and now Sri Lanka govt. banning import of medicines will not only cripple the local pharm. industry but also cost loss of of precious foreign exchange.I don’t understand how a Efroze a .reputed reputed drug manufacturer falls into disrepute.Are we going to become a failed state?if not, then what is a failed state.


  • Haider
    Feb 2, 2012 - 9:46AM

    there you go!


  • Citizen
    Feb 2, 2012 - 9:50AM

    Its not in benefit of our export industry however from another perspective this decision serves well to pharmaceutical companies who played with lives of innocent people.


  • sick of this nonsense
    Feb 2, 2012 - 10:21AM

    @Aqeel Ahmed:
    Why in God’s name do we have to bring India into everything?


  • ashok sai
    Feb 2, 2012 - 11:08AM

    @Aqeel Ahmed:

    I think you misunderstood and included opium in pharma products.


  • vasan
    Feb 2, 2012 - 11:41AM

    Aqueel Ahmed : Go get a life. This news is about the goof up of the Pak Pharma industry and Srilanka’s reaction. If u keep growing your obsession of seeing India bogey in everything you see/read/feel/hear/sense , this downward path will only be a beginning.


  • matter of fact
    Feb 2, 2012 - 11:51AM

    @Aqeel Ahmed:

    tendency to bring in India for everything is a weird state of mind. By the way India exported approximately US $ 12 Bn worth of medicines to more than 70 countries in the world, 30 times of Pakistan. Hope that explains something !!


  • BS.Detecter
    Feb 2, 2012 - 12:01PM

    Posting with other user’s nick show how degenerate, desperate and insecure the indians are


  • Cautious
    Feb 2, 2012 - 12:02PM

    I love Pakistan – I know this is temporary due to current situation developed in Lahore – Routine procedure for any country to block imports till the things settle down


  • Pollack
    Feb 2, 2012 - 12:46PM

    @Aqeel Ahmed: Do you create your own “facts”? Hey…anything is possible in Pakistan. Even kasab turned into “Amar Singh” here.


  • Amjad Hanif
    Feb 2, 2012 - 1:32PM

    This is really big loss of Pakistan, and must need to make the international standard Laboratories into Pakistan and before launch the each and every Medicine into market the Medicine Manufactures must get “Quality Assurance Certificate” from there.


  • from India
    Feb 2, 2012 - 2:23PM

    @ Aqeel Ahmed – have you heard of Ranbaxy, Piramal Healthcare, Cadila, Biocon ? these are all Indian based MNCs relating to pharma…not a single Pakistani company could match the size and structure of any of these companies …so think before u blink and get a life !!


  • abdulazeez
    Feb 2, 2012 - 2:35PM

    @Aqeel Ahmed : ” we’re the lowest cost producer of high quality medicines in this world and our R&D is vastly superior to indian ” ………..Thats why your patients are coming to india for better treatment


  • ProudPakistani
    Feb 2, 2012 - 3:23PM

    Welldone Pakistani media…MISSION SUCCESSFUL!!


  • Khan
    Feb 2, 2012 - 4:18PM

    @Aqeel Ahmed:
    It would be really amazing if people were not hibernating while posting comments … High Quality medicines? Superior R&D ? which planet are you living on?
    Hundreds of patients just died because of poor quality of medicines is that what you call superior?


  • Sani Bhagwan
    Feb 2, 2012 - 5:15PM

    Gloom and doom apart, Pakistani pharma co’s can colloborate with Indian co’s for the benefit of ordinary pakistanis. And please do something for the families of 100 patients who lost their lives. People here are worried about the export orders than worrying about patients who lost their precious lives.


  • Ashvinn
    Feb 2, 2012 - 7:36PM

    Well such things have happened in other nations and continues to happen in some developing nations,i guess this news becoz it happened in a metropolis like punjab wonder how many die people for lack of medical services access in South Asia.Grow up people this bound to happen in poorer countries just make sure you guys have some good labs and please for heaven sake please kick the BBC wallahs out of the country, it is disgusting how they show only poor and slums when it comes to south asia


  • Raza
    Feb 2, 2012 - 10:26PM

    I agree, day before yesterday, my own Uncle died after taking cardiovastin medicine manufactured by Afrose Pharma in Karachi. The doctor changed the medicine and that night he took the first dose and after one and half hour he got a massive heart attack and heart failed and he expired. There is no quality control check in Pakistan, officers are taking bribe and it is very common. May Allah have mercy upon us.


  • G. Din
    Feb 3, 2012 - 12:16AM

    “…please for heaven sake please kick the BBC wallahs out of the country, it is disgusting how they show only poor and slums when it comes to south asia”
    If you are ashamed of “poor and slums”, then do something about them instead of shooting the messenger. Ask them if they would like to “kick the BBC wallahs out of the country”. You may not like their answer. We need those BBC wallahs to keep pricking our consciences!


  • Giri
    Feb 4, 2012 - 1:03AM

    I agree with @Aqeel. Life is cheap, so are the medicines.


  • Observer
    Feb 4, 2012 - 11:48AM

    The company that made the spurious drugs should have been shut down immediately and a thorough and in-depth investigation conducted to determine what went wrong. This is the normal procedure in most countries with good regulatory practice. Something seriously went wrong in the production, procedures and management in the company. Until the results of and independent investigation are available how can anyone be sure that other drugs made by the company would not also be defective?


  • Tania
    Feb 7, 2012 - 9:17AM

    I think this murderer company should closed , Government should cancel their Manufacturing License Permanently.

    This is totally open murder, government should hang responsible owner in front of people .


  • romeo
    Feb 21, 2012 - 1:46PM

    Now, Sri Lanka than others will follow suit………….as a Pakistani, I am scared to take medicine made in Pakistan………………..because you never know the one tablet you are taking for health safety is contaminated or not…??? this is a big question as there is no proper quality control cell working practically in Pakistan. Only Almighty can save Pakistan from ignorant and illiterate people manufacturing medicine in Pakistan.


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