Local pharmaceutical industry has lauded the Drug Regulatory Authority's initiative to establish model pharmacies across the country to ensure availability of life-saving drugs as their shortage costs many lives. The DRAP has issued a notification indicating that 14 model pharmacies will be established in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and other big cities of the country in the first phase.
A pharma industry source said that it has always been a challenge for the DRAP to curb the menace of fake drugs and the authority has taken great pains to ensure quality of drugs available in the market.
"However, the DRAP has to ensure quality of the drugs as fake and spurious drugs kill thousands of people every year," he added. According to him, Pakistan faces the illegitimate but lucrative trade of counterfeit and substandard drugs to the epidemic proportions. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each pharmaceutical product that a manufacturer produces has to comply with quality standards and specifications at release and throughout the product shelf-life required by the territory of use.
The WHO estimates that only approximately 20 percent of its 191 member states have well-developed drug regulation; around 30 percent are thought to have no or minimal drug regulation in place.
"In Pakistan, poor-quality medicines pose a serious public health problem as the vested interests make every possible effort to make availability of deliberately falsified and substandard medicines in the market," he added.
It has also been reported that fake insulin is being excessively used in Balochistan and many cases have been spotted in Turbat where fake insulin is being supplied under the name of famous company.
Another issue is unavailability of qualified pharmacists as they usually leave Pakistan to work in the US and European and Middle Eastern countries due to lack of attractive employment prospects here in the local market, industry sources said, adding: "These model pharmacies will help stop the brain drain of qualified pharmacists in the country by providing them job opportunities locally." Hundreds of people are dying in Pakistan due to ignorance of the properties of modern medicines and their adverse reactions, complications and interactions with other drugs. Hence, the DRAP has to ensure quality of drugs at these model pharmacies with qualified pharmacists on their panel to make this step beneficial for the patient, the sources said.