Further amendments will be made in the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) amendment bill 2012 with the consensus of provinces and other stakeholders.
This was stated by Minister of State for National Health, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar on Tuesday at a senate standing committee meeting. “Many multinational pharmaceutical companies have wound up their businesses and others are planning to follow suit, which is why the DRAP amendment bill 2012 will be further amended to overcome issues pertaining to drug licensing, registration and pricing,” she said, while addressing the Senate Standing Committee on National Health, Regulations and Coordination which met at the Parliament House.
Committee members asked why the ministry was taking so long to appoint a permanent chief executive for the drug regulatory body when it was affecting the country’s pharmaceutical sector. Senator Abdul Haseeb Khan questioned how the national health secretary could be the chairperson of the Drug Regulatory Policy Board in violation of rules, considering that looking after its affairs was full-time work,” he questioned. Tarar said the CEO’s post was advertised and 12 people were shortlisted, out of which nine were their own directors.
Irregularities in PMDC
The members also expressed reservations over the functioning of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC). Sindh President Pakistan Medical Association Dr Samreena claimed that the recent election hold by the PMDC in April was not free and fair. She said some of the candidates were threatened by their seniors and there were attempts to bribe them to withdraw their names.
Tarar said PMDC needed reform. “There is no one to question objectionable steps taken by PMDC like the construction of a building for millions of rupees.” Corruption charges against Dr Ahmad Nadeem, ex-registrar of PMDC are being investigated, she added.
PMDC Registrar Dr Raja Amjad Mahmood said PMDC had Rs160 million in its bank account in 2004 which has all been spent. He pointed out other irregularities like hiring staffers who were not eligible for their posts.
Former Lahore High Court judge Shabbar Raza Rizvi, who is heading an inquiry commission at PMDC said an investigation into the fake registration of doctors and medical colleges was underway. Committee chairman Senator Zafar Ali Shah constituted a sub-committee to probe into PMDC’s matters including elections, the composition of its council and the work and composition of its executive body.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2013.