Import Of Vital Medicines From India Allowed: Pakistan's Drug Regulatory Authority

The statement of the DRAP officials came during a session of the Senate Standing Committee on Health when Senator Professor Mehr Taj Roghani raised the issue of the unavailability of several essential medicines in the country amidst a financial crisis
Three ayurvedic medicines included in Patanjalis Corona Kit.
Three ayurvedic medicines included in Patanjalis Corona Kit.

Cash-strapped Pakistan’s drugs regulatory watchdog has said that hospitals and common citizens can import vital medicines, including anti-cancer drugs and vaccines, from India for their use, a media report said on Friday. 
     
The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) said on Thursday that there was no restriction on hospitals or the common man on importing vital medicines (anti-cancer drugs and vaccines) from India for their own use under the Import Policy Order 2022 after obtaining no objection certificate (NOC) from the authority, The News International newspaper reported.
     
The statement of the DRAP officials came during a session of the Senate Standing Committee on Health when Senator Professor Mehr Taj Roghani raised the issue of the unavailability of several essential medicines in the country amidst a financial crisis.
     
“In view of (the) unavailability of some essential medicines in Pakistan, common people and hospitals can apply for a NOC to directly import medicines from India. Currently, there is no ban on (the) import of any drug from India under the Import Policy Order 2022,” DRAP officials told the forum.
     
During the session, Senator Roghani said that doctors from Sindh and other provinces had sent her a long list of medicines, including Heparin and other drugs used to treat neurological and psychiatric illnesses, vaccines and other biological products unavailable in Pakistan.
     
DRAP officials responded that the authority had launched a countrywide survey of unavailable medicines and asked their field force countrywide to report all the essential medicines not available at the healthcare facilities.
     
In its written response to the Senate Standing Committee on Health, the drugs regulatory watchdog said it was working on publishing the list of unavailable medicines with contact details on its official website, which would be updated periodically based on real-time market surveillance.
     
“A committee has been constituted by the DRAP, which has been assigned the task of monitoring shortages of drugs in the market. The above committee is dealing with the issue on a consistent and regular basis. Similarly, through an online application for NOC to DRAP, people and hospitals can import medicines from any country, including India, for personal use,” the written response said.
     
The clarification by the DRAP came amidst a chill in Indo-Pak bilateral ties.
     
India's move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 outraged Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad.
     
Pakistan also snapped all air and land links with India and suspended trade and railway services.
     
Responding to the DRAP, Senator Humayun Mohmand said, “We must praise DRAP for its efforts to ensure (the) availability of medicines in the country,” and added that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the drug regulatory watchdog took minutes and hours to allow essential medicines and vaccines for critically sick patients.
     
Pakistan struggles to put its cash-strapped economy in order with the help of the International Monetary Fund, which agreed to provide USD 3 billion in loan.
     
Cash-strapped Pakistan’s economy has been in a free fall mode for the last many years, bringing untold pressure on the poor masses in the form of unchecked inflation, making it almost impossible for a vast number of people to make ends meet.
     
Their woes increased manyfold after last year’s catastrophic floods that killed more than 1,700 people and caused massive economic losses.

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