ISLAMABAD - Senior PPP leader Senator Rehman Malik on Monday proposed 14-year imprisonment along with fine of Rs50 million as punishment for those involved in the manufacturing and business of spurious medicines.

He proposed an amendment to the Drugs Act, 1976 for the purpose.

In a letter written to the Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services and Regulations chairman, Senator Malik stated that he had an in-depth study of the Act.

“During my stay at the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), I had experienced difficulties in taking action against the manufacturers, distributors and sellers of spurious medicines because of the lacunas in the law,” he wrote.

The senator informed that prosecution against those involved in the business of spurious drugs and raids to arrest them could not be conducted unless sanctioned by the drug inspector.

In his letter, he has proposed that the government should make amendments to the relevant sections of the Drugs Act, 1976. “The FIA shall be able to undertake any checking raid on the factories reported to be manufacturing spurious medicines without getting any clearance from the drug inspector,” he suggested in the letter.

In the second proposal, he said that “any pharmaceutical company or individual found involved in financing, producing and distributing spurious medicines shall be punished with up to 14 years imprisonment along with fine of Rs50 million.

In the letter, Senator Malik also proposed a bill to further amend the Drugs Act, 1976 to ensure the manufacturing of snake bite and dog bite vaccines in Pakistan.

Senator Rehman Malik discussed in detail the quantity and value in Pakistani rupees of medicines and vaccines being imported from India on monthly basis.

Senator Malik urged the government to overcome the shortage of snake venom serum and rabies vaccines in the country by making it mandatory for local manufacturers to produce at least five percent of these vaccines in addition to expensive medical products.

He said the government must ensure the availability of snake venom serum and rabies vaccines, particularly in the monsoon season.

He said that it was very unfortunate that these vaccines and medicines were imported from India and China when Pakistan could manufacture these, adding that locally manufactured vaccines would be much more affordable.

He expressed his apprehension that in case of mounting tensions with India, the supply of these life saving vaccines could be halted which could create a national health hazard.

He expressed concern that Pakistan had imported medicines worth Rs1360 million in 2019 from India alone, which could be saved by making these locally.