Lack of LEAs’ support hampers efforts to prevent sale of fake drugs in KPArchive
PESHAWAR: Lack of support by law enforcement agencies hampers the efforts of health department to prevent sale of fake, spurious and unregistered drugs in the province, according to sources.
They said that health department conducted raids at markets and warehouses and seized fake medicines but the perpetrators often remained unpunished and as a result the business of counterfeit and fake pharmaceutical preparations went unabated.
A huge quantity of counterfeit drugs was recovered from 15 godowns in Karkhano Market on December 19 but the dealers managed to escape arrest despite the presence of officials of Federal Investigation Agency, police and district administration.
Sources said that health department always banked on the law enforcement agencies for laying hands on the big stores operating illegally but the owners of such outlets even managed to roam scot-free despite the presence of security agencies.
The manufacturing, stockpiling and sale of fake and unregistered medicines is in contravention of article 23 (1) of Drugs Act, 1976 and punishable under 27 (A) to imprisonment not more than 10 years with a fine of up to Rs100, 000 but no FIR has been registered against the dealers at Karkhano Market despite lapse of two weeks.
Huge quantity of spurious medicines seized but FIRs yet to be registered
According to health department sources, a huge quantity of unregistered, spurious and counterfeit drugs was recovered from godowns at Shinwari Plaza in Karkhano Market that was notorious for distribution of the illegal drugs in the province.
“Even FIRs haven’t been registered against the owners of shops sealed for possessing the unlawful stuff which is a source of embracement for health department as it has long planned the raid after weeks of homework,” they said.
The department is still preparing case that will be submitted to Provincial Quality Control Board (PQCB) to lodge FIR after which arrests can be made. It has submitted a complaint to seek permission for registration of FIR against the owners of the shops, the outcome of which is awaited.
Sources said that legally permission of PQCB was required for registration of cases against the accused persons, but police or FIA could detain the people from the spot in accordance with the PPC, CrPC or FIA laws.
“The health department has no force and relies on the law enforcement agencies for investigation of such offences,” they said.
Sources said that the department on its part was recommending to FIA to register cases against the people involved in selling Indian, Iranian, Chinese and other illegally imported drugs.
“Under the law, the department is authorised to get permission from the chairman of PQCB (secretary health) instead of convening full board meeting in urgent nature cases but that is yet to be done,” they said. They added that such slow-paced work benefited the people involved in the business of unregistered drugs.
“The province has a total of 55 drug inspectors, who are required to regulate the operations of about 10,000 medical stores but the situation with regard to checking the main stores is a big issue, mainly owing to lack of administrative powers,” said sources.
The department has conducted 16,500 raids from January to November, sealed 491 outlets, registered 36 FIRs and received Rs11 million in penalties but the performance has not been up to a desired level.
“The Namak Mandi Market in Peshawar is replete with unregistered drugs, including antibiotics, painkillers, tranquilisers, sedatives and sex tonics etc,” said sources.
They said that the department could not think of raiding wholesale shops without the support of law enforces and even their support was not enough to arrest the powerful mafia playing with lives of people.
Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2020