In a press conference on Thursday, Pakistan young Pharmacists Association (PYFA) and the Pakistan Drug Lawyers Forum (PDLF) alleged that the dengue vaccine had been registered in Pakistan despite a ban imposed on it by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This is a matter of grave concern because the WHO is an authority on such matters and when a vaccine has not been approved by them, registering it in the country means either negligence on part of the authorities or sheer nonchalance at the consequences of the action.

According to PYPA representative Mohammad Usman, the vaccine was first registered by the WHO in the Philippines in September 2017. It was donated by the WHO for up to 730,000 children. However, as soon as the vaccine started being used, severe reactions started being reported. Due to these reports, all the vaccines were immediately collected back by the WHO and a ban was imposed on their use. This was crucial information, which should have been considered before registering the vaccine because investigation is still underway to understand how the manufacturer was allowed to launch the vaccine without market surveillence.

Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) should be held accountable for this decision. This is the leading institution which makes crucial decisions about medicine in Pakistan and if they are willing to overlook the health of individuals and register medicines without research, it is about time they are replaced. The use of such a vaccine can put several lives in danger.

They are not just risking lives but Pakistan’s international image as well. This is not the first time that products banned internationally have not been banned from use in Pakistan. The sales of baby formula banned in France because of being contaminated were not stopped in Pakistan even after the revelation of the news. International markets now do not trust medicines manufactured in Pakistan as a result.

All of this information puts weight in the accusation of the PYPA against DRAP that there are rumours that DRAP has taken a commission of RS500 million to register the vaccine in the market, which is why they are ready to overlook the international scrutiny and constantly defend their decision to register it. The federal government needs to intervene in the matter before it is too late.