LAHORE - Increase in punishment, fine and sweeping powers to inspectors in recently notified Punjab Drug Act caused manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to come out on roads in protest.

Manufacturers stopped production and wholesalers and retailers observed complete shutter down strike for three days, even after the tragic incident of suicide attack at Faisal Chowk, to protest against harsh punishments and heavy fine.

Successful negotiation between the government team and representatives of various associations led to returning of normalcy. But for how long normal routine will continue is a question relating to success or failure of five member committee constituted to resolve the issue.

As the issue surfaced, both the government and people relating to drug industry were pole apart and the situation persisted at the time of formation of a committee after hours’ long dialogue at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat.

Government believes that the passage of Drug Act is aimed at curbing the menace of fake, spurious and substandard drugs. On the other hand, people relating to drug business say that the recent amendments are uncalled far. They say that such laws don’t exist not only in other provinces but also anywhere in the world.

As per the recently notified Act, private firm could be hired for checking the process of preparation of medicines. Heavy fines would be imposed on violation. Registration of firm would be compulsory for manufacturing drugs. Unsatisfactory conditions at stores or clash with drug inspector will be liable for punishment for 14 days to one year.

A chemist would be arrested on presence of any spurious, substandard or expired drug. Presence of a pharmacist is compulsory at every medical store. All the offenses have been made non-bailable.

People relating to drug industry say that the entire community is with the government for curbing the menace of spurious drugs. They expressed reservations over hiring of private firm for checking manufacturing of drugs. They also pointed out sweeping powers of drug inspectors, saying who will determine that whether inspector or medical store owner is responsible for the clash.

Instead of introducing such legislation, the government should have followed international laws such as British Pharmacopeia or US Pharmacopeia to deal with drug industry.