Saturday July 20, 2024

ICT health officials, FIA bust illegal medicine factory in federal capital

Nutraceutical products including vitamins, minerals and herbal products were being produced illegally: says Officials

By M Waqar Bhatti
March 25, 2024
A representational image of medicines. — Pexels/File
A representational image of medicines. — Pexels/File

ISLAMABAD: Health authorities in a joint raid with Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) sealed an illegal, unlicenced medicine-production unit in Ghauri Town, Islamabad.

The nutraceutical products including vitamins, minerals and herbal products were being produced illegally, officials said on Sunday.

“Inspectors from the drug control section of Health Department, Islamabad along with FIA officials on Sunday raided an illegal medicine factory located in Ghauri Town, Islamabad and recovered raw material and nutraceutical products in finished form. The people running the illegal operation have been arrested and an FIR has been registered against them”, Sardar Shabbir Ahmed, Chief Drug Inspector, Islamabad told The News.

During the raid, health and FIA authorities recovered raw material and packaging material for the production of multivitamins, mineral products, herbal medicines and other nutracutical products, Sardar Shabbir Ahmed disclosed, adding that all types of medicinal products including capsules, tablets and syrups were being produced at the illegal factory.

“Our team and officials are still present at the site and trying to ascertain the products which were produced at the illegal factory so that they could be recalled and confiscated from the pharmacies and medical stores where they were supplied by the criminals”, Sardar Shabbir added.

Sardar Shabbir told that initial investigation revealed that a Hakeem was the owner of the illegal manufacturing unit which was located in the basement of his residence where illegal drugs including sexual stimulants, cholesterol lowering products and other herbal products were being produced illegaly.

“The accused was not present during the raid but we are nominating him as the main accused in the FIR. He has some offices in Rawalpindi and other cities of the country, which are also being raided by our joint teams for the evidence and illegal drugs”, he added.

According to experts, production of spurious and counterfeit medicines in Pakistan is a significant and serious concern with far-reaching implications for public health, safety, and the economy.

Commenting on the production of spurious and counterfeit medicines, an official of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) said counterfeit medicines often contain incorrect ingredients, incorrect dosages, or no active ingredients at all. Consuming these fake drugs can lead to treatment failure, exacerbation of health conditions, development of drug resistance, and even death.

“Patients may unknowingly rely on counterfeit medications to manage their health conditions, leading to serious consequences. Similarly, prevalence of counterfeit medicines undermines public trust in the healthcare system and can erode confidence in the quality and effectiveness of medications”, he said adding that it also hampers efforts to control and manage diseases, as patients may receive ineffective or substandard treatment.

On the other hand, production and distribution of counterfeit medicines disrupt legitimate pharmaceutical markets, resulting in financial losses for pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers, and governments. “This illicit trade can also lead to increased healthcare costs as patients may require additional treatment or hospitalisation due to complications from counterfeit drugs”, the DRAP official claimed.

He deplored that many consumers were unaware of the risks associated with counterfeit medicines or lack knowledge on how to distinguish between genuine and fake products. Insufficient public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives further exacerbate the problem, as individuals may inadvertently purchase and consume counterfeit medications.

“The issue of spurious and counterfeit medicines in Pakistan is a serious threat to public health, safety, and the economy. Addressing this issue requires a coordinated effort involving regulatory reforms, enhanced enforcement mechanisms, public awareness campaigns, and international cooperation to effectively combat the proliferation of counterfeit drugs and safeguard the well-being of the population”, the DRAP official maintained.