The Prime Minister (PM) of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif, has taken note of the absence of 60 essential drugs in the country and has instructed the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to submit a comprehensive report on the availability of the essential medicines in the country.
The update was revealed by officials from the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination (MoNHSRC) on Friday.
An official stated,
Under the directives from the Prime Minister’s Office, DRAP has asked all its additional directors and provincial chief drug inspectors in the country to conduct a market survey and identify the list of medicines short in the market. They have been directed to provide their report regarding unavailable medicines and duration of their shortage within a day, by July 23, 2022, to the Committee on Availability of Life Saving Drugs (CALSD) of DRAP.
The Secretary of the Committee on Availability of Life Saving Drugs (CALSD), Muhammad Ayub Naveed, of the DRAP, apprised all the Additional Directors and provincial Chief Drug Inspectors that the “drug shortages remain a top priority for the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan”.
“The DRAP Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has constituted CALSD to shorten the duration of shortage and ultimately prevent through a proactive approach and utilizing all tools, including the regulatory flexibilities and adhering to the sacred responsibility of ensuring safe, efficacious, quality, and affordable therapeutic goods to the people of Pakistan,” he added.
The President of the Pakistan Psychiatric Society (PPS), Dr. Imtiaz Dogar, and its former President, Prof. Dr. Iqbal Afridi, had previously stated that the market has been short on all brands of Lithium Carbonate for the last two to three months. They highlighted that the drug is most effectively used for the treatment of various psychiatric illnesses, including bipolar disorder, and its death could result in patients with psychological disorders committing suicide.
They and other officials from the pharmaceutical industry had noted that around 60 essential medicines were missing from the market, including those for the treatment of neurological disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), tuberculosis, epilepsy, and psychiatric illnesses.
The officials had also pointed out that painkillers, anti-hypertensive and anti-depressant medicines, anticoagulants (blood thinners), and various other important medicines were also unavailable.
Conversely, DRAP’s officials had claimed that only eight medicines are unavailable in the market because of the supply-chain issue while officials from the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) had attributed the shortage to the rupee’s depreciation against the dollar, which had increased the cost of producing those medicines.