Health, DRAP officials put on notice for failure to curb epidemics

  • SC observes epidemics cause more deaths than terrorism
  • Says won’t allow anyone to maintain monopoly over hepatitis medicine

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notices to the federal health secretary, Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan chief executive and provincial director generals of the health departments for their failure to curb the epidemics, including hepatitis C and polio, and called a detailed report from them within three weeks.

Taking up the case, a three-judge bench of the apex court expressed surprise that the drug regulatory authority was not registering a low cost medicine for hepatitis, when more people were dying of the epidemics than from the menace of terrorism.

At the outset of the proceedings, the bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, was told by Raja Farooq, the counsel for a private pharmaceutical company, that most of the pharmaceutical companies were selling medicine for hepatitis C between the price range of Rs 1000 and Rs 3000, while the same medicine prepared by his client only cost Rs 116, but the drug regulatory authority was not ready to register this medicine. He told the court that if this drug was registered then his client would be ready to sell it at a cheaper rate.

Upon this, Justice Ejaz Khan remarked that “if any company manufactures inexpensive medicine, then why it is not encouraged”. He also said that the court would review the media reports about medicines for hepatitis C being imported by the relatives of a federal minister and having monopoly on them.

The judge noted that “two per cent people die due to terrorism whereas 98 per cent die of diseases”. He observed that every third person was suffering from hepatitis C while prisoners in jails were also dying due to inadequate medical facilities but no one cared.

Justice Khan made it clear that no one would be allowed to maintain monopoly over the sale of medicines nor would anyone be allowed to play with the life of children and the common man.

He said it was the responsibility of the federal and provincial governments to provide treatment facilities to the citizens as per constitution.

Later, the court issued notices to the federal health secretary, drug regulatory authority chief executive and director generals of the health departments and adjourned the hearing for three weeks.