LAHORE - Blatant violation of relevant clauses of Drug Regulatory Authority Act 2012 has put a question on decisions and routine work of the body assigned to ensure availability of safe and quality medical services at affordable prices, TheNation has learnt.

Although the Act was enforced as soon as the President signed the document on December 12, 2012 after it sailed through the Parliament, people at helm of affairs did not bother to implement clauses relating to appointment of officers from top to bottom, raising questions if decisions on licensing of pharmaceutical companies, registration and pricing and routine work.

As minimum qualification for Chief Executive Officer is postgraduate degree either in Pharmacy or Medicine. The government continued to go for options of appointing officers having lesser qualification on temporary basis.

Although the government can appoint Acting CEO having prescribed qualification, it violated Section 5(1-a) and Section 5(6) by giving tenure in excess of three months, raising questions that how decisions and routine work was permitted when the position of head of the body was unlawful.

“In the presence of Acting CEO, policy board meetings are illegal as he is also secretary of the board. He cannot even call any meeting of Drug Registration, Licensing or pricing. Licenses have been issued to 45-50 pharmaceutical companies and hundreds of new drugs have been registered during the period. Prices of hundreds of drugs have been increased during the period without any justification. For instance, price of Rocephin injection has been increased from Rs 450 to Rs 750 whereas its actual cost is not more than Rs 50. The entire exercise is void as not only CEO but also staff is working illegally”, the insiders claim.

Not only the head but also all the employees are working illegally as they did not exercise an irrevocably option either to continue in the present pay and service structure as a civil servant or to opt for becoming public servant after absorption in the Authority within 30 days from the commencement of the Act. Working of these civil servants up till now is violation of Section 15(5-a), 15(5-b), 15(5-c), 16, 17, 18(1) and 18(2) as they did take the option of becoming public servants till December 12, 2012, within 30 days after the commencement of the Act.

Although no qualification for Director is defined, civil servants are holding the office in violation of relevant provisions of the Act. The Authority has yet to make service, financial rules and as such daily business, recruitment of employees and disbursement of their salaries from government treasury is unlawful.

“Acting CEO opened account of DRAP in a private bank in violation of General Financial Rules of Federal Government. As per these rules, account could be opened only in State Bank of Pakistan or in National Bank. General Financial Rules of Federal Government overrules section 22 of the Act. This is embezzlement and punishable under section 410 of Pakistan Penal Code”, said an official at Health Ministry on the condition of anonymity.