SEEMINGLY, the unstoppable menace of cartelisation is the order of the day. The drug mafia these days is out to cause an artificial shortage of life saving drugs from the market for the sake of profiteering. Reportedly, the doctors in the hospitals are waiting for the supply to resume and are finding it hard to go about their routine business. The patients likewise are worried, virtually going from store to store desperately trying to find the missing medicines. A most important medicine that has gone missing is Thyroxin. The black marketeers know well that since it is a life saving drug and in great demand, its shortage aimed at raising its price would serve their purpose. The pity is there is no check on them. Not only that. What has aggravated the situation, now almost reaching a crisis point, is the scary thing that the process by which drugs are supplied to dealers and pharmacies commonly referred to as the drug registration process, has also been tampered with by the drug mafia. Newspapers have reported that all this and much more has been happening under the 'watchful eye of the federal health ministry. Though Prime Minister Gilani intervened and gave marching orders to the Federal Minister for Health, Ejaz Jhakrani, for alleged financial irregularities, handing him the sports portfolio, the situation more or less remains the same. What has been happening under Mr Jhakranis rule beggars description yet it is unfortunate that he has had only a change in portfolio. Only those companies, which had paid heavy bribes had their products registered by the health ministry. Massive corruption of billions of rupees is also alleged in national health programmes like the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI), malaria and hepatitis control programmes. The situation appears to be getting worse. There can be no improvement unless the drug mafia is brought to book. The government must guarantee the availability of essential medicines at drug stores at affordable price.