SHC receives petition for devolution of drug regulatory powers to provinces


KARACHI: The Justice Helpline, a non-governmental organization, on Saturday moved the Sindh High Court (SHC) seeking its directives for the federal government to devolve the powers of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to provinces according to the 18th amendment in the constitution.

Justice Helpline Patron Atam Parkash Chanani and President Advocate Nadeem Shaikh maintained in their constitutional petition that the DRAP was established in 2012 to provide effective coordination and enforcement of the Drugs Act 1976 to manage inter-provincial trade and commerce of drugs. They reminded that the bill to establish the authority was passed by the Parliament and became law after the president’s assent in November 2012.

The petitioners said that DRAP had failed to address many serious issues including an acute shortage of medicines and substandard or counterfeit medicines as it had no policy, ill planning and poor enforcement of even distorted laws.

Parkash and Shaikh informed the court that DRAP was unable to streamline the healthcare issues though had a clear guidance by the World Health Organization, making the issues for pharmaceutical industry and patients more complicated.

They said that frequent interventions by the government and health ministry in DRAP had virtually made it a non-functional body.

It was further said in the petition that the tenure of former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Aslam Afghani had expired on January 30, 2018, and according to the procedure, the authority had to issue advertisement at least one month prior to the expiry of the CEO’s appointment but it was not followed.

The petitioners submitted that the ministry of national health services had appointed acting CEO on February without following the due course of law for the appointment.

“There is no any coordination between the DRAP Authority (federal government) and health ministries of all provinces due to which the entire structure of medical industry and the health department has been damaged. This has also created a power struggle between the federal authorities and provincial health departments,” the petitioners added.

They said that due to the above-mentioned irregularities, productions of forfeited medicines were coming in the market which is very hazardous for the health of general public.

They informed the court that it was observed that instead of provincial health departments, the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) was raiding different medicine manufacturing companies, wholesalers, and retail medical stores to capture illegal forfeited medicines.

Making secretary commerce division, secretary ministry of national health services, secretary establishment division, DRAP acting chief, National Accountability Bureau Chairman, Federal Investigation Authority Director General and health secretaries of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the respondents, the civil rights campaigners requested the court to direct the federal authorities to hand over the powers to the provincial governments.

The court was further asked to order proper legislation in respect of forming DRAP Police with full force and powers to register FIR against the culprit companies and persons involved in the manufacturing of fortified medicines.