Shortages of essential medicines add to the woes of patients

A representative image showing different medications. APP/File

ISLAMABAD: At least 30 essential medicines have disappeared from community and hospital pharmacies across the country, causing serious problems for patients suffering from chronic diseases.

The out-of-stock medicines include various types of insulin, inhalers and treatments for neurological, psychiatric, cardiovascular and infectious diseases, health professionals and officials said Wednesday, raising concerns about the welfare of patients.

They said most of the drugs currently unavailable in the market were either registered products of multinational pharmaceutical companies or locally produced and imported. Provincial drug inspectors in Karachi reported the unavailability of at least 30 essential and life-saving medicines in pharmacies, Sindh Quality Control Board Secretary Syed Adnan Rizvi told The News.

In a letter to all provincial drug inspectors of Sindh, Rizvi advised them to conduct a survey of pharmacies to check the unavailability of essential medicines so that appropriate measures could be taken to ensure supply of medicines to patients.

Citing the difficulties of diabetic patients, he said that diabetic patients were facing problems in getting insulin as various types of insulin were not available in Karachi and other cities of Sindh.

Similarly, those suffering from neurological and psychiatric disorders also have problems acquiring essential medicines, he added.

Non-availability of genuine medicines could lead to production of counterfeit medicines, he feared, adding: We have also directed our inspectors to keep an eye on counterfeit and substandard medicines.

In addition, health professionals and emergency medicine specialists reported a shortage of inhalers for asthma patients, saying that adult and pediatric patients were suffering due to the unavailability of salbutamol inhalers in all of pakistan

Industry sources attributed the shortage of inhalers to several factors, including increased demand following the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, export restrictions on some countries, increased use and storage, as well as regulatory challenges.

Some leading psychiatrists and neurologists also reported the unavailability and shortage of several essential drugs, including chlorpromazine and a leading brand of lithium carbonate tablets to treat schizophrenia, mania, depression and other mood disorders mood. They said psychiatric patients were forced to use ineffective drugs due to the absence of quality medicines.

Endocrinologists and medical specialists also reported the unavailability of a leading brand of metformin, which is used to monitor and control diabetes, and several other drugs used to treat hypertension, angina, anxiety , as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), etc.

A senior official of a leading pharmaceutical company stated that the price difference due to the devaluation of the rupee against the dollar was the main reason for the unavailability of some insulin products as their landing cost was much higher than the maximum selling price allowed by the Pakistani authorities. .

In addition to the devaluation of the rupee, problems in the global supply chain make it difficult to import medicines and produce them locally in Pakistan, the official added.

However, an official of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) refuted reports of extreme shortage of essential medicines and drugs in Pakistan and termed the unavailability of some of the drugs as a supply chain problem. supply

We are conducting regular surveys to ensure that essential medicines or products are always available in the market. Similarly, we are approving new registrations and urging local and multinational companies to come forward and manufacture medicines to break the monopoly of some companies in the Pakistani market, the official added.

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