ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered a probe into the alleged scandal of importing over 450 medicines like vitamin tablets in the guise of buying life-saving drugs from India, according to a media report.
On August 9, Pakistan suspended all trade ties with India following New Delhi’s decision to abrogate Article 370 on August 5, revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, later the government allowed the import of life-saving drugs and their raw materials when the pharmaceutical industry created hue and cry and warned that soon Pakistan could face a shortage of important drugs.
There were repeated allegations by the opposition and reports in the media that the relaxation given by the government was being misused and demands were made that a probe should be ordered.
Prompted by the reports, Prime Minister Khan tasked his aide on accountability Shahzad Akbar to probe the import of over 450 medicines from India.
A document of the Ministry of National Health Services (MNHS) shows that a number of vitamins, drugs and salts were imported from India, Dawn newspaper reported.
The document presented before the federal cabinet on May 5, states that the prime minister in his capacity as Minister In-charge for MNHS sought a list of drugs being imported from India.
The document, signed by MNHS Secretary Tanveer Ahmed Qureshi, shows that a number of vaccines, including BCG, Polio and Anti Tetanus Vaccine, have been imported. Moreover, a number of vitamins, including B1, B2, B6, B12, D3, Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate, were also being imported from India.
An official of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, requesting not to be quoted, told the newspaper that initially it was claimed that cancer patients would suffer if import of medicines and their raw material from India were banned.
“However, later all kinds of medicines were imported from India due to which we have been transferring the foreign exchange to India. The government should ensure that the medicines and their raw materials are manufactured in Pakistan as it will allow us to save the precious foreign exchange and ensure export of medicines abroad,” he said.
A senior officer of the MNHS, said that it was not appropriate to comment on it as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Akbar had been assigned to look into the issue, the report said.
“Moreover, the Ministry of Commerce is also involved in it so we have decided to let Akbar look into the matter,” he said.