Sunday June 16, 2024

Dexamethasone not to be sold without prescription

By Shahina Maqbool
June 19, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prohibiting over-the-counter sale of Dexamethasone — a synthetic steroid which has shown to be effective in the treatment of critically ill Covid-19 patients requiring oxygen therapy or ventilation — the Ministry of Health Thursday announced that the drug will henceforth only be sold to customers holding a valid prescription issued by a registered medical practitioner.

The decision has been taken in view of shortage of Dexamethasone (injection and tablet) in the wake of trials suggesting that the drug, which has long been used for treatment of a range of inflammatory conditions, could be a lifesaver for critically ill Covid-19 patients.

“All pharmacies shall ensure uninterrupted supplies and availability of the drug at the price fixed by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan. The drug shall be sold only to customers with valid prescription by a registered medical practitioner.

Pharmacies and distributors are hereby directed to maintain the sale and purchase of the drug and submit the record, along with hard copies of prescriptions to the Inspector of Drugs on a fortnightly basis,” a circular issued by the Ministry of Health states, warning of “strict action in case of any violation/delinquency.”

The notification adds that Pakistan has multiple manufacturers of Dexamethasone and it is exceptionally important that the drug be reserved for use in severely ill and critical patients.

In a related advisory issued on Thursday, DRAP has also proposed measures to ensure prescription-based sale of the drug.

“The availability of Dexamethasone containing dosage forms (injections, tablets, and solution) shall be sold at licensed pharmacies, drug/medical stores only on prescription basis. All licensed sale points shall maintain record of the prescriptions on which the drug is sold. The National Task Force constituted for the purpose of eradication of spurious and substandard drugs, is directed to take immediate action under the law against those involved in black marketing, hoarding, and non-compliance of the above directions,” it states.

Meanwhile, the Office of the District Magistrate has issued a notification warning that the sale of the medicine at inflated prices or in bulk, and creation of artificial shortage of the medicine by hoarding, will be cognizable under the Profiteering and Hoarding Act 1977, the Drug Act 1976, and Schedule-II of the DRAP Act 2012.

All assistant commissioners have been directed to make inspections and conduct audit of pharmacies in their areas of jurisdiction and to ensure uninterrupted supply of the drug and its sale to customers holding valid prescriptions bearing the stamp and signature of a registered medical practitioner, along with his/her PMDC registration number written on it.