LAHORE - Disappointed by lack of interest on the part of the Punjab Health Department in continuing negotiations, Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association and other stakeholders have started preparation for re-launching protest against amendments in the Drug Act 1976 and DRAP Act 2012.

Punjab Chief Minister had constituted a committee headed by Advisor on Health Kh Salman Rafiq to address grievances of pharmaceutical companies, distributors, whole sellers and retailers regarding recent amendments in the Drug Act and DRAP Act. In the only meeting held in the last week of August, the Committee decided to constitute a technical advisory committee for evaluating suggestions from stakeholders and reaching to a settlement.

“Technical committee has not been constituted so far. No government official has contacted us for meeting after the lone sitting last month. It seems the government has ended the process of dialogue without conveying the same to the stakeholders”, said Amjad Jawa, former Chairman PPMA.

“We cannot continue business in atmosphere of uncertainty and fear. No one is listening to us. The constitution of the committee was merely eyewash. Now we have no option except to come on road and close our business. We are consulting with other stakeholders including distributors, whole sellers and retailers for devising future course of action. Convention of chemists will be convened in Lahore on September 4 for discussing prevailing scenario and developing consensus on the issue. Pharmacists, homeopaths and those dealing in herbal medicines will also be taken on board. This time protest will not be just holding a rally. It will be a shutter down strike and the government will be responsible for the inconvenience to the masses”, Amjad Jawa said. He said that a medical store would remain open outside emergencies of government hospitals for the convenience of patients.

The Punjab government has recently promulgated Ordinance, bringing amendments in Drug Act and DRAP Act. The changes have given extra ordinary powers to drug inspectors, imprisonment for pharma companies owners for selling substandard drugs.

After recent amendments, substandard and spurious drugs fall in the same category.