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'Drap to involve PCSIR in regulating alternative drugs'.

ISLAMABAD -- The Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) will be involved in the regulation of herbal medicines, a form of alternative medicine, while the Ministry of Science and Technology will be asked to cooperate in the regulation of millions of medical devices, it has been decided.

After meeting its targets, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) will move on to verifying clinical claims made by alternative medicine practitioners, better known as hakeems.

Drap CEO Dr Mohammad Aslam told Dawn that there have been a number of complaints regarding alternative medicine and claims made by hakeems.

There have been complaints regarding alternative medicine and claims made by hakeems, says CEO

He said the time had come to regulate altern-ative medicine the same way that allopathic drugs are currently regulated and 'their clinical tests are ensured'.

In 2016, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Secretary Mohammad Abid Majeed raised the issue of the sale of unregistered medicines with then-National Health Services (NHS) secretary Ayub Sheikh.

In his letter, which is available with Dawn, he claimed that fictitious firms had started pouring so-called food supplements, nutraceuticals, baby formula and herbal medicinal products into the market.

'Invariably all these so called alternative medicines were reported as containing allopathic ingredients openly sold in the market.

'From January to June 2016 as many as 534 nutrition/alternative medicines were analyzed by the provincial drug laboratories and it was found that there were ingredients which become reason of severe damage to public health,' the letter stated.

Dr Aslam explained that all medicines other than allopathic medicines are called alternative medicines.

'We have observed that, in Pakistan, resources are available at the government-level due to which alternative medicines can be checked. There are PCSIR laboratories across the country that can look into the complete structure of alternate medicines and even [conduct] chemical testing,' he said.

'We will declare that the tests by those labor-atories will be acceptable, and strict action will be taken if any irregularity is found in the medicines during tests.

'There are also millions of medical devices in Pakistan, so it has been decided to contact the Ministry of Science and Technology and request that it should check those devices in labs working under it,' he said.

In response to a question, Dr Aslam said Drap will also move to look into clinical claims.

'A number of hakeems and quacks claim that they have treatments for all diseases and they have been practicing for decades. We will verify if their medicines really work or not,' he said.

'This will help eliminate spurious or substandard drugs from the market.

'Local manufacturers will be assisted in this regard to acquire quality raw materials legally, and technical help will be provided to them from Drap during the formulation process,' he said.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jan 25, 2018
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