Senate Committee Approves Drug Regulatory Authority Bill

The Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services has passed The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2020 moved by Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi calling for the omission of words non-drug being used for some health and OTC products.

The amendment will remove the inconsistency of the definition of the term in the bill and will also help reduce the misuse of the term in case of assurance of safeness, effectiveness, and reasonable pricing of drugs and therapeutic goods.

The Committee was held with Senator Khushbakht Shujaat in the chair at the Parliament House on Thursday and was attended among others by Senators Asad Ashraf, Ghous Niazi, Javed Abbai, Sana Jamali, Shafiq Tareen, Additional Secretary Ministry of Health and officials from the ministry and DRAP.

The Committee was given a detailed briefing on the present status of COVID-19 in Pakistan and future plans to combat the pandemic. It was told that the total tests conducted since February are 2,043,870, total deaths due to COVID-19 are 6,014, with 254,286 (90.4%) recoveries and 20,836 active cases. In the last 24 hours, 11,915 tests were conducted, 675 positive cases were reported and 15 deaths occurred. The country has 493 COVID-19 related hospitals with 27,540 beds for COVID-19 patients and 1,783 ventilators dedicated for COVID-19.

The Committee was also told that the possibilities for virtual hospitals in Pakistan are being explored which will use healthcare workers to provide assistance and services to patients, especially those who cannot travel to hospitals.

Details regarding the future plan on slowing down the spread of disease, ramping up the healthcare facilities, making required legislation i.e. national health emergency response act, media campaign and awareness, capacity building of healthcare workers and financial resources were also shared.

On questions regarding the uneven distribution of labs, testing facilities and protective gear, the Committee was told that these are decided, established or provided according to the identification of provincial governments and every stakeholder is represented on the forum of NCOC.