ISLAMABAD - The Senate Special Committee on Drug Regulatory Authority has directed the bureaucracy not to add or delete even a single word from the finalized draft for the establishment of the authority as per Supreme Court directives.

The meeting of the Senate Special Committee on Drug Regulatory Authority was held at the Parliament House on Wednesday with Senator Abdul Haseeb Khan in the Chair. The committee has been compiling a draft for establishing a drug regulatory authority at federal level to regulate, register and fix medicines prices. The complied draft in its four extensive meetings was sent to the President, Chairman Senate, Supreme Court and Prime Minister.

The Cabinet was directed to ensure that no amendment should be made in the draft of DRA finalized by the Special Committee and in case any amendment has to be made on demand of the provinces, the amendments should first be sent to the Special Committee in a meeting to be held again today due to urgency of the matter because the Cabinet has to present a final draft before the Supreme Court on the deadline of February 17 set by the Supreme Court.

The bureaucracy was directed not to add or delete even a single word from the draft finalized by the Special Committee which being a parliamentary body has the representation from all provinces of Pakistan and if any change or amendment will be made in Special Committee's draft and submitted to the Supreme Court without approval from the Special Committee, it will be considered to be an insult to the Parliament and breach of the privilege of the Special Committee of the Senate on DRA.

The Committee took a strong notice of the fact that until now no responsibility has been fixed by either the Punjab government or the federal government as regards the death of 147 cardiac patients in Lahore due to spurious drugs. Senator Haroon Khan stated that the irony of the situation is that it was only after the Supreme Court's orders at the death of 147 persons that the government machinery is gearing up for formulation of an authority.

He said that the Parliament has been working for the formation of DRA for the past ten years and when Parliament stresses upon something the government machinery must act immediately and accordingly as these 147 deaths in Lahore could have been avoided had there been a DRA at the center as per recommendations of the Parliament.  Senator Kalsoom Parveen lamented the miserable plight of health related issues in the country particularly Balochistan after the devolution of the subject of health to the provinces.

She further highlighted the miserable plight of polio and HIV/AIDS patients in Balochistan. In Balochistan 300 children have been diagnosed with polio and people of the province do not know about HIV/AIDS but it is fast spreading there due to injections and contact with HIV/AIDS patients. She said although people in Balochistan are very religious but the global fund has not been released as yet in Pakistan.

She strongly recommended that a libratory should be set up in Balochistan for detecting HIV/AIDS and polio and other diseases immediately.

Meanwhile, Executive Director Sadia Moazzam of Pharma Bureau, the representative body of multinational pharmaceutical manufacturers operating in Pakistan, in a statement proposed that the authority should be staffed with independent experts in the field. It also proposed that the authority should regulate not just medicines but alternative medicines, homeopathic and all other imported medicines on which there is no control in the country. It also demanded of the government to increase investment in developing a full monitoring infrastructure to ensure standards are maintained and they actively close down facilities, which are found substandard. "The DRA will need to be supported by a robust provincial monitoring structure to ensure that the entire sector is maintaining the integrity. This infrastructure needs to include new world-class laboratories and research facilities so that products' quality can be tested within the country," it added.