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In a bid to discourage heavy influx of counterfeit and spurious health products and other alternative medicines, Drugs Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has promulgated rules to regularise the undocumented sector and asked the manufactures, dealers and stockists of health products and alternative medicines to get their products registered within 60 days.

Sources said that authority has asked the manufacturers and dealers of Unani medicine, imported medicinal product, homeopathic medicines, herbal preparation, herbal substance, proprietary medicines, herbal medicinal product, phyto-medicines to get license from DRAP for sale of these products.

Sources told this correspondent that neutaceutical products like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, fatty acids, baby milk and foods, cereals, pre-biotic and pro-biotic would also be registered under Alternative Medicines and Health Products (Enlistment) Rules, 2014 of DRAP.

"Those who are involved in the business of alternative medicine and health products by locally manufacturing or import are bound to get the manufacturing and marketing authorisation under DRAP Act 2012," said Abdul Samad Memon, Vice Chairman of Pakistan Chemist and Druggist Association (PCDA). He also urged the DRAP to appoint Director Health and OTC Products (non-drugs) for the assessment, licensing and registration of nutritional products and food supplements for human beings and animals. He said that manufacture, import, marketing, supply and stocking of unapproved alternative medicine and health products is an offence under the DRAP Act, 2012.

During the visit to country's major medicine market, this correspondent witnessed that spurious multi-vitamin supplements under the garb of multinational and national brands are being sold openly at drugs stores despite DRAP has enacted the rules to keep check on such type of products. It has also been learnt that various alternative medicines and health products are being manufactured at homes without any fear of legal action.

Sources said druggists, selling counterfeit supplements, are fleecing the consumers under the guise of multivitamin and other herbal products. "Usually, people are not very much conscious about the side-effects of the alternative medicines and health supplements because they have fair trust over therapeutic products like herbal, unani, homeopathic and dietary supplements. The chemists have successfully cashed the sentiments of the society, now befooling the people by selling counterfeit and unregistered products at exorbitant prices," a chemist said. When contacted, former Chairman of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufactures' Association (PPMA), Dr Qaiser Waheed, lauded the efforts of DRAP on promulgation of rules to regularise the undocumented sector of the industry. However, he said that DRAP has to proceed fast to curtail the influx of the spurious products.

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