FIA to Launch Investigation against DRAP and NHS

A complaint alleged that the permission for export of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) was given to obtain monetary benefits.

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A member of the Pakistan Young Pharmacists Association (PYPA), Dr Furqan Ibrahim, filed a complaint with the FIA alleging that 20 million face masks were smuggled out of Pakistan with the help of Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP) and the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Dr. Zafar Mirza, who is leading the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS). However, the masks were allowed to be exported on the request of the Chinese embassy in Pakistan, according to the spokesperson for the NHS.

It has been determined that originally DRAP had banned export of respiratory (N95) masks, goggles, face shields, disposable gloves, disposable gowns on January 30th. The document said the ban had been placed due to emergence of coronavirus and if the articles were exported, strict action would be taken against the violators. On February 8th, however, five companies were allowed to export an unlimited amount of personal protective equipment after written directives regarding relaxation of rules were issued.

The decision to allow export of the equipment caused an outrage in the health sector. This was because the masks were in high demand across the country due to panic triggered by the coronavirus outbreak in China and its spread in some other countries. Along with this, a toxic gas leaked in the Kemari area, killing numerous people. Then the sale of masks at manifold higher rates started in the local market. After this, DRAP began to conduct raids against mask sales in the black market.

DRAP and NHS’s Response to the Complaint

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DRAP CEO Dr. Asim Rauf

DRAP’s CEO Dr. Asim Rauf stated that the export had been allowed on the request of the Chinese embassy due to outbreak of COVID-19 in China. “We have allowed export of masks and other equipment due to our close relations with China. However, we have sufficient stock of the equipment,” he had said. The Ministry of NHS also issued a statement claiming that it had decided to sue the PYPA over the allegation.

A spokesperson for DRAP alleged that the PYPA was used as a front by people involved in the manufacturing and sale of fake, unregistered and counterfeit medicines. Whenever DRAP acted against such acts, foolish complaints were entered to deter the authority’s efforts to reduce manufacturing and sale of fake, smuggled, unregistered and counterfeit medicines.

“One such allegation has been leveled by them against SAPM and an additional director of DRAP regarding face masks. It is a baseless allegation. DRAP has decided to sue the PYPA for their repeated allegations to undermine efforts to curb menace of dubious medicine in the market. Many cases of violation of DRAP Act 2012 and Drugs Act 1976 have been registered against Noor Mohammad Mahar and Mohammad Usman who use the PYPA for their vested interests.

“The office-bearers of this organisation were found involved in the heinous crime of manufacturing and sale of spurious, misbranded, unregistered and sub-standard drugs playing with the lives of patients and mocking the law. DRAP initiated legal action against this mafia and several FIRs were registered. It is apprehended that in the emergent situation of coronavirus in the country, such elements have tried to twist the facts for getting their own benefits.

“DRAP requests public and the media to remain vigilant of such elements for spreading misinformation in these cautious times. References have been sent to the authorities to apprehend such elements and their allies i.e. Haroon Yousaf, Noor Mohammad Mahar and Mohammad Usman and make them accountable for their offences which have endangered public health.”

Asked why DRAP had allowed export of face masks despite shortage in Pakistan, Media Coordinator of the Ministry of NHS Sajid Shah said that the export was allowed on the request of the Chinese embassy and people should not do politics over the relations between the two countries which had supported each other through thick and thin.


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