LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif Friday approved the establishment of Punjab Drug Authority (PDA) with an aim to curb manufacturing and sale of the spurious and unlicensed drugs.

The authority to ensure strict implementation of the Drug Act of 1976 after it was amended last month to make manufacturing and sale of such medicines a serious crime punishable with up to 10 years of jail and a fine of up to Rs five million.

For this completely autonomous authority, the chief minister has directed the departments concerned for finalising draft and organisational structure of it within 14 days. Addressing a high meeting through video link, the chief minister also ordered for launching indiscriminate crackdown on the manufacturers and sellers of spurious, substandard and unlicensed medicines, which he observed, is a heinous crime admitting no leniency.

The meeting also reviewed the pace of campaign against the elements involved in the production and sale of spurious, sub-standard and unlicensed medicines while a strategy was also discussed for complete eradication of this dangerous trade.

The CM told the meeting that the government was committed to purge the province of the illegal medicines and award exemplary punishment to those involved in their sale. In his view the manufacturers of medicines without license deserve even stringent punishment.

He directed the police, law enforcement agencies and the district administration to act promptly and affectively to break the collusion of those producing spurious and unlicenced medicines and sellers of the same.

The chief minister said the manufacturers who are maintaining quality and standards will be encouraged through a review after every three months. He said that four taskforces had been constituted in the province for elimination of spurious and substandard medicines and these taskforces should continue taking action against the elements involved in this heinous business.

Shahbaz Sharif directed the health authorities for inspecting the units licenced for manufacturing medicines and conducting a third-party examination to ascertain quality of their product while continuing an indiscriminate action against those manufacturing medicines without licence.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the performance of Provincial Quality Control Board, the chief minister warned it to bring quick improvement in its working or action would be taken against it. He further directed that Secretary Prosecution for conducting forensic audit of the previous performance of the Board and submitting a report.

He also sought expansion of the drug inspection monitoring evaluation system to all divisional headquarters so that an effective system of check and balance is put in place.

Adviser on Health Khawaja Salman Rafiq, Chief Secretary Khizar Hayat Gondal, Parliamentary Secretary Kh. Imran Nazir, Members Assembly Qazi Adnan Farid, Abdul Aleem Shah, Dr Nadia Aziz, Advocate General Punjab, concerned secretaries, Commissioner Lahore Division and senior officers attended the meeting at Civil Secretariat through video link.