The Chief Minister's Task Force on Spurious Drugs has come up with a list of as many as 76 life-saving drugs, 52 of them locally manufactured, which are not available in the market. The 24 imported drugs are unregistered, while the remaining 52, which are supposed to be locally manufactured, are not made in a sufficient quantity to meet the demand, owing to the setting of a low profit margin. These medicines are manufactured for export, not sale in the local market, to earn huge profits. This was recently disclosed by Task Force Chairman Dr Saeed Elahi, whose revelation probably helps explain the periodic complaints of the shortage of medicines. And the Task Force's list shows that patients with cardiac, renal, asthma and paralysis complaints, and women with delivery problems, would find themselves at risk. There has been no quantification of how many lives have been lost due to this shortage, probably because this was outside of the Task Force's purview, but there can be no doubt that the loss of life has been grievous, and the decline in health even worse. And the situation is continuing, with a continuing loss of life, as well as decline in health. Now that the Task Force has identified the problem, Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif wants the medicines all to be manufactured locally, not just a limited number, so that their availability in the local market can be ensured. Some of the medicines cannot be manufactured locally, because there is not sufficient demand to sustain manufacture, would have to be imported, but their efficient and regular supply to the market would be ensured. Doubtless, this would ensure that this problem was effectively dealt with, thus leaving the Task Force to take up the rest of its brief, the identification of those drugs which are spurious and which still make it to the market. The Chief Minister might find that this exercise brings him into conflict with federal authorities, who regulate the import and manufacture of medicines, but he must keep the interests of the patients uppermost when following up on the work of his Task Force.