LAHORE - Representative bodies of pharmacists and doctors have alleged that the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan is playing with the lives of hepatitis patients by denying registration to low cost sofosbuvir manufactured by local pharmaceutical companies.

Addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club on Friday, pharmacists and doctors alleged that mafia in DRAP was hindering registration for the last couple of years to benefit a company owned by relative of a federal minister.

Dr Nabeela Latif, President Pakistan Young Pharmacist Association, Dr Haroon Yousaf, Dr Izhar Ahmed Chaudhary, President Pakistan Medical Association, Hafiz Ahsan Naseer, Vice President Consumer Protection Society, Azhar Iqbal Butt, President Pakistan Pharmaceuticals Association, Dr Nazar Murshad, President Specialist Doctors Association Punjab, Dr Ihsan-ur-Rehman, President Medical Teachers Association, Noor Mehar, Pakistan Pharmacist Association and Samiullah Khan Durrani, General Secretary Sunder Pharma Consortium addressed the press conference.

They alleged that AQ Javed Iqbal of DRAP delayed registration of Sofosbuvir 400mg tablet for two years and killed thousands of Pakistanis to only get huge bribe.

Later, AQ Javed Iqbal gave registration of Sofosbuvir to a laboratory owned by the brother-in-law of one of the minister at Rs 2,000 per tablet, which was out of reach of 98 per cent Pakistanis.

Not only this, AQ Javed Iqbal and Usman Anwar Director FIA pressurised all other pharma companies to not to manufacture low cost Sofosbuvir. FIA lodged FIRs against pharmaceutical companies and arrested a number of highly qualified persons. This was only done to harass pharmaceutical companies not to provide low cost treatment to Hepatitis-C patients.

Prof Zafar Iqbal and Prof Aftab Mohsin, authorities in Hepatitis-C treatment, have conducted successful clinical trials of another tablet of sofosbuvir namely Sovir price less than 400, the registration of which is delayed by AQ Javed.

“We condemn illegal arrest of Dr Haroon Bilal, Assistant Professor. We demand removal of AQ Javed Iqbal, Usman Anwar and Mian Asif from posts and start of criminal proceeding against them,” they said.

Pakistan is amongst the countries with the highest prevalence of Hepatitis-C. The prevalence of HCV in Pakistan is at least eight per cent, with much higher figures for certain population pockets. This translates into an estimated 16 million infected people, of which five million could have serious liver disease and 1.2 million have developed liver cancer. Almost 3,000 Pakistanis are dying daily in Pakistan due to unavailability of medicine of Hepatitis-C.