The Standing Committee on National Health Services (NHS), Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C) has directed the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to ensure an ample supply of Paracetamol and snake anti-venom throughout the country, especially in the flood-hit areas. The panel further directed for penal action against all those involved in hoarding, black-marketing, and slow production of the direly needed Paracetamol and other medicine. The Chief Executive Officer of DRAP told that the pharmaceutical sector was demanding an increase in the price of Paracetamol, which was rejected by the Federal Cabinet.
In the aftermath of torrential floods and mass displacement of a significant chunk of the population in Balochistan, Sindh, and some parts of Punjab and KP, infectious diseases including dengue fever, malaria, and other abdominal ailments broke out in flood-hit areas while COVID-19 cases also surged in major cities. As a looming health emergency situation emerged in the country, the essential medicines including paracetamol, pain killers, and other emergency drugs became vanished from the markets in most parts of the country.
The drug store became empty of these highly essential life-saving medicines while these drugs are available on the black market at several times higher prices. In fact, it does not happen for the first time in the country, as our drug retailers and pharmaceutical companies had repeated this practice several times in the past. The drug mafia withdrew the direly needed face masks, paracetamol, and aspirin tablets from the markets during the COVID-19 pandemic while they earned millions of rupees from sales through the black market. The Drug mafia displayed similar behavior during the dengue infections in the past, while Pakistani health authorities including the DRAP and Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) failed to preempt this situation and did not penalize the culprits after the occurrence of the crime. Due to the silent support of health officials, such events are happening recurrently and each time the public pays the price for the corruption and slackness of health officials. In fact, the government must award extreme punishment to the culprits who play with people’s lives and also take stren action against the health officials who didn’t fulfill their responsibilities, so such events did not happen again.