LAHORE - Instead of filing vacant posts through fresh recruitment, the primary and secondary healthcare department has come up with the unique idea of overcoming the shortage of drug inspectors by giving additional charge to pharmacists at DHQ/THQ hospitals.

Where both drug inspectors and pharmacists are available, they will perform duties on rotational basis to get know how about working of each others.

For expediting operation against substandard and spurious drugs, divisional committees existing on papers only will be activated.

Chairing first stocktaking meeting of vertical programmes as Minister Primary and Secondary Healthcare, the entire focus of Kh Imran Nazir was on curbing the menace of illegal manufacturing of medicines and sale of substandard and spurious drugs in the province. As he was well aware about hurdles in carrying out operation against spurious drugs due to his supervising the functioning of CM’s Taskforce during the last couple of years, the minister directed the use of human resources of hospitals for properly doing the already assigned job.

Experts believe that the plan was impractical as majority of posts of hospital pharmacists and drug inspectors were lying vacant. “Hospital pharmacist will be given additional charge of drug inspector. It is already in practice in some areas. The question is that who will be given charge of drug inspector when post of hospital pharmacist is also vacant,” said Noor Muhammad Mehar, a senior pharmacist and drug law expert.

He added that filling vacant posts of both the hospital pharmacists and that of drug inspectors was the right option and not stopgap arrangement of giving dual charge.

Regarding rotational duties for both pharmacists and drug inspectors, he said both the jobs were hectic and needed full focus. “Nature of job of a hospital pharmacist is entirely different from that of drug inspector. Pharmacist is part of the process of purchase of medicines, both annual and local purchase, keeping record and managing store of hospital.

“Drug inspector is responsible for monitoring and evaluation of medicines in the market. He is responsible for monitoring quality of medicines from manufacturing to sale at stores. He is supposed to ensure that quality medicine is sold at authorized pharmacies on government fixed rates. Checking sale of spurious and substandard drugs is also part of his job,” Noor Mehar added.

Giving both responsibilities to one individual would be injustice not only with him but the public at large, he further said. “If two jobs are given to one person, he will not be able to perform any of them due to excessive workload.”

To the decision of activating divisional committees, he said that it would be a good initiative provided suitable persons i.e., qualified pharmacists knowing consumer rights were made part of operation against substandard and spurious drugs.