Bad medicine: Over 450 pharmacies selling spurious drugs in Lahore

Published: April 27, 2014
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Hospitalised suspect begs doctors not to inject him with drug that he had supplied. DESIGN: OMER ASIM

Hospitalised suspect begs doctors not to inject him with drug that he had supplied. DESIGN: OMER ASIM

LAHORE: 

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has identified more than 450 drug stores selling spurious drugs in the provincial capital, according to a report of the agency available with The Express Tribune.

The drugs include medicine manufactured by local and multinational pharmaceutical companies including life-saving drugs. Along with the FIA report, the names of the spurious drugs and the medical stores selling them have been shared with the provincial health authorities, including the Punjab health minister and the provincial health secretary, FIA Punjab Director Dr Usman Anwar said.

The Punjab chapter of the FIA had launched an operation in early April after several complaints were made about the sale of substandard medicine in Lahore. Over the last two weeks, the FIA identified and raided 10 establishments which engaged in the manufacture, bulk supply and distribution of spurious drugs to hundreds of drug stores in Lahore. The record confiscated at the 10 establishments jointly raided by the FIA personnel and drug inspectors of the Health Department included invoices documenting the sale of spurious drugs to more than 450 drug stores in Lahore. In random checks, the adulterated medicines supplied by the 10 establishments were recovered from the cited drug stores.

Pulling together

The schedule of offences that the FIA covers includes spurious drugs. However, the agency can only proceed against spurious drugs in coordination with the Health Department. Before initiating the crackdown, the FIA had held meetings with officials of the Health Department, the Quality Control Board, the drug testing laboratory and the pharmaceutical association, and requested their assistance. All four had agreed to support the action, according to FIA officials.

The FIA report said that the medicine found during raids included fake drugs in forged packing, unregistered drugs, drugs sold without manufacturer’s warranty, expired medicine which had been repacked, drugs stolen from government or armed forces institutions, homeopathic or herbal products containing allopathic ingredients and drugs smuggled into Pakistan.

A taste of their own medicine

FIA Punjab Director Dr Usman Anwar said one of the arrested men had fainted in FIA’s custody. “He was taken to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital where he regained consciousness just as a nurse was about to administer a Risek injection to him. You should have seen him beg and plead with the nurses and doctors not to give him the injection. He had no compunction in stating that Risek was one of the fake injections that he manufactured and distributed in Lahore,” said the FIA Punjab chief.

Action by FIA

During the 10 raids the FIA arrested 13 accused and recovered millions of tablets and injections from factories and distribution networks. A factory in Kot Abdul Malik, another on Bund Road, distribution networks in Johar Town and BOR Society, pharmacies in Samanabad and two stores at Medicine Market were raided. Two establishments dealing in medicine stolen from armed forces and other government hospitals were raided in Tajpura Scheme and Islampura.

Obstacles

The FIA report highlighted various obstacles during the operation against spurious drugs due to the complex procedure, particularly regarding constitution of teams to raid drug establishments. The FIA could not conduct a raid without the area drug inspector accompanying its team. After a successful raid, permission from the Quality Control Board was mandatory before a case could be registered. After the FIA completed its investigation and submitted the report to the relevant drug inspector, the drug inspectors had to again send this report to the Quality Control Board for permission to prosecute.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Omer Janjua
    Apr 27, 2014 - 1:05PM

    This is how PML(N) changed PunjabRecommend

  • Khawar Ejaz
    Apr 27, 2014 - 1:17PM

    Shame on everyone, who support this party. PTI zindabadRecommend

  • Iqbal Ali
    Apr 27, 2014 - 1:22PM

    If this was happened in KPK. Paid workers of PPP, PML(N), MQM would have flooded this message board till now. This is how their media cell works

    Recommend

  • Dude
    Apr 27, 2014 - 3:54PM

    @Iqbal Ali: Sorry, but I belong to KPK and KPK is the hub of fake medicines. There is zero check and balance.Recommend

  • Aimen
    Apr 27, 2014 - 3:58PM

    Shouldnt the media focus on sharing the names of these drug selling stores so that the public can actually be saved rather then waiting for a ‘crack down’ to materialise

    Recommend

  • Nadia Khan
    Apr 27, 2014 - 4:40PM

    It is despicable that people take advantage of others when they are at their weakest. Such people should be tried to the greatest extent of the law, for the medicine they provide may as well be the poison to kill someone. It saddens me greatly to see how people have fallen, simply for money and profit. Is it really worth that?

    Recommend

  • yousafhaque
    Apr 27, 2014 - 8:35PM

    This ‘news’ has not surprised me at all.We tend to concentrate on medicines only.What else in the world are we getting in pure form to eat.If only we came to know of various edibles we get in the market we shall simply stop taking any medicine or eat any food .

    Recommend

  • Zafar
    Apr 27, 2014 - 11:26PM

    People involved in these heinous crimes must be given exemplary punishment including cutting off their limbs and the wounds to be treated only by the fake drugs they manufactured. This is the only way to stop this murderous crime for good.

    We must do away with old British colonial times laws that have not worked.

    Recommend

  • Rabia
    Apr 28, 2014 - 1:03AM

    Our media tends to give cover to the criminals. . The list of medicines must have been made public for people’s benefit. Who do you want to protect by keeping names hidden?

    Recommend

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