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The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said unsuspecting masses are facing growing threat from fake medicines which must be tackled immediately. Weak laws, lax supervision, minor punishments and nominal fines are enough to attract criminals to this low-risk and high-return business while the same in sufficient to discourage investment in the pharma sector, it said. Government should take immediate action to dislodge the criminal networks earning billions from this cynical trade, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.  

WHO report suggests that ratio of fake medicines in developed countries is one percent; it is 30 percent or more in developing markets while 30 to 40 percent medicine sold in Pakistan are fake. Mughal said that a common Pakistani spends 77 percent of his or her health budget on medicines which is around Rs 200 billion annually of which a sizable number are fake drugs prepared in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi or Multan.

Pakistan has four thousand registered pharmacists and over one hundred thousand unregistered practitioners who continue to play with the lives of masses.

According to WHO Pakistan stands 13th in $431 billion fake medicines market with neighbouring India and China on the top.

Pakistan stands on 10th position among countries trying to send counterfeit medicines in the highly regulated US market, said Mughal.

Globally fake medicines are responsible for seven hundred thousand deaths annually, he said.