- People suffer as PTI, govt blame each other for crisis.
- Health minister blames PTI for “misleading” masses.
- Says “no shortage” of paracetamol in Pakistan.
ISLAMABAD: Responding to media reports of a shortage of paracetamol in the country, Minister for Health Abdul Qadir Patel termed these reports as “PTI propaganda” and said that there was “no shortage” of medicine.
Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, the minister also announced a countrywide crackdown against those involved in producing and spreading spurious and counterfeit medicines from today (Tuesday).
The clarification from the government came after PTI ally Moonis Elahi claimed that the inflation-weary Pakistanis are now facing a shortage of Panadol and the Shahbaz Sharif government has “no solution” to people’s miseries.
Accompanied by Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) chief Asim Rauf, Patel accused the PTI of spreading misleading information regarding the shortage of paracetamol and promoting a particular brand of painkiller, adding that the PTI leadership has “no pain” for the flood victims.
“The actual situation is that due to an increase in the number of dengue fever cases, and a growing demand of medicines in the flood-affected areas and other factors, the leading brand of paracetamol is under stress but due to the rumours spread by the PTI leadership, people have started hoarding this medicine, which is causing a temporary shortage in some of the areas,” he said.
DRAP has sent several senior officers to Karachi to monitor the production of paracetamol, especially the production of its leading brand, Patel said, adding that the federal and provincial drug inspectors were monitoring the situation on a daily basis and submitting their reports at the headquarters every evening.
Claiming that pressure was being exerted to increase the prices of medicines, he said the PTI-led government increased the prices of medicines thrice in their tenure, adding that they increased the prices of 597 medicines by 179%.
Responding to a query regarding an increase in the prices of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) or raw material used for the manufacturing of medicines, Patel said for the first time in the history of Pakistan, DRAP is going to register the raw material and fix its prices, so that realistic prices of medicines could be fixed in the country.
“I have directed DRAP to start the registration process of raw material used in the manufacturing of drugs like it gives registration to medicines. This will help us fix the actual prices of medicines based on the cost of raw material used in the drug manufacturing process,” he added.
Responding to a query regarding the sale of medicines with generic names, the federal health minister said he was in favour of such sales but claimed that the pharmaceutical industry was a strong opponent of this idea, as according to them, generic sales could result in serious medication errors as most of the pharmacy owners in the rural areas of the country were not literate enough to dispense medicines properly with their generic names.