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tussle with drug act 2017

By Dr. Zeeshan Khan

The Punjab Assembly had passed the Drug Act 1976 on February 8, 2017 according to which the sale of medical drugs which are below the acceptable standards will be punishable by imprisonment ranging from 6 months to 5 years and also a fine of Rs 1 to 5 million. It also suggested to implement Schedule. Moreover, if a qualified person is not available, then a fine of Rs 500,000 to 5,000,000 would be imposed as well as imprisonment of 30 days to five years. Under the amendment, a chemist would be arrested if any spurious, substandard or expired drug was found in their stores.he will not be able to obtain a bail for six months.

Under the Punjab Drug Act 2017, it is mandatory for a certified pharmacist to be physically present in medical stores and pharmacies. It is pertinent to mention that according to the amendments, the sellers of substandard medicines would be awarded a punishment of five years in jail with a fine of Rs 1 million, the sellers of fake medicines would undergo a five-year imprisonment and would have to pay Rs 50 million as fine while those found selling medicines without a license would get 10 years in jail and would have to pay a fine worth Rs 100 million. Pharmacies and drug stores in the city announced a protest and a strike against the Punjab Drug Act 2017, in the provincial capital and other areas of the province, on Thursday 26 April.

Medical store owners across Punjab observed a shutter-down strike during the protest, making it increasingly difficult for citizens to purchase medicines. Shop owners in Lahore and many other cities took part in the strike. Patients were severely handicapped due to the unavailability of medicines after the chemist and drug association launched the strike. Some of the medical stores remained open in different localities but they were selling medicines in fear and panic. Some black sheep are trying to degrade the law and most of the chemists community did not fulfill national responsibility. In this severe situation, patients have faced difficulties since past few days in getting medicines as pharmacies in different areas of the city remained closed.

On the other hand, people criticized the token strike by the chemists and said after doctors it was now the turn of chemists to go on strikes, creating problems for the citizens. The government should strictly implement law to apprehend all those found involved in selling spurious drugs playing with the lives of the citizens And large number of patients were left distraught due to the strike. PPMA and 12 other organisations called a strike against the amendments to the Punjab Drugs Act 1976 which were introduced last year. To record their protest, a large number of activists belonging to the PPMA, pharmacists, chain pharmacies and the Pakistan Young Pharmacist Association (PYPA) gathered outside the Lahore Press Club on 5th,May 2018. But on the other hand Associations of Pharmaceutical Distributors, wholesalers, medicine manufacturers, dealers,and chemists protested outside Punjab Assembly chanted slogans against the government, and called the new drugs act their “economic victimisation”.

Dr. Zeeshan Khan is a medical doctor by profession. He is also Alumni of LUMS and Winner of All Pakistan Ubqari Story Writing Competition.

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