Islamabad-The Transparency International has mentioned a drastic drop in the export of medicines due to unnecessary delay in issuance of No Objection Certificate and free sales certificate by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan.

The TI in a letter issued to the Federal Ministry of National Health Services Regulations & Coordination (NHSRC) has urged to take action against corrupt practices in the DRAP.

It said that about 30 to 40 thousand applications for medicines enlistment are pending with the department.

The TI observed that NOC for grant of export permission takes two to three months which lead to refusal to the export orders by buyers, causing not only commercial loss but also loss for the country in shape of foreign exchange.

However, an official at the NHS, while talking to The Nation, said that the letter is totally a misguidance as in the last three years more than 1,000 licences were issued and after 2014 a very low number of cases are pending with the DRAP. “30 to 40 thousand applications is exaggeration while no list of such applications has been provided to the ministry,” said the official.

The official also said that the pharmaceutical export in 2016-17 has increased as compared to the previous years.

The official said that since 1947 the number of licences issued were around 750 while in last three years the number was increased to 1,000.

The international watchdog expressing serious concerns on the performance of the Directorate of Health alleged that the department could not provide clear directions for issuance of Form 7. Resultantly, chaos has been created in the market which is now leading to opening a door for massive corruption in multiple directions.  ‘Form 7’ is related to the registration of medicine product which is manufactured or imported from the other country.  “Applicants who applied for Form 7 in 2014 are still waiting for it while certain ‘Blue eyed manufacturers and importers’ have been granted Form 7,” said the letter.

The letter said that the applicants were misguided in providing the information that only 7 to 10 products will be given. However, the record said that more than 150 products were registered on the basis of nepotism.

In the letter it has been also observed that selected manufacturers have been given Form 7 for herbal, Unani and Nutraceuticals but now they are asking to submit an undertaking from manufactures that they will apply for only one section (Herbal, Unani or Nutraceuticals). 

“As a result, a few manufacturers are enjoying 100 per cent market monopoly which is against the rules,” said the letter.

Issuance of Free Sale Certificate has also been refused by the concerned department due to the reason best known to them. This is a clear example of violation of rules.

The secretary is required to examine the complaint and take urgent action and if it is true then to proceed with investigations against all those officers involved in corrupt practices.

Former CEO DRAP Aslam Afghani has been alleged for running most problematic tenure. Talking to The Nation, ex-CEO DRAP said that the DRAP made remarkable achievements during his tenure and international agencies had appreciated the department’s performance.

Talking to The Nation, Secretary NHS Naveed Kamran Baloch said that he cannot fully deny or accept the allegations mentioned in the letter written by international watchdog. “However, he can assure that in last EIGHT months the ministry has done appreciable work in all departments,” he said. He said that the Supreme Court had also taken suo motu on the pricing issue and ministry has worked to control it. The secretary said that he has called the meeting on issue and will provide technical details on Monday.