Drug Admin Lacks Teeth: Health Minister
Monday, 27 July 2009

The health minister AFM Ruhal Haque admitted on Sunday that the Directorate of Drug Administration, under his ministry, lacked teeth to enforce standards of drug manufacturing throughout the country.

But he also said no leeway would be given to any of the 258 licensed drug companies operating in Bangladesh if they were found to be producing sub-standard drugs.

Haque—speaking in the wake of 25 children's deaths, reportedly due to an adulterated paracetamol product made by Rid Pharmaceutical Company—said the drug regulatory watchdog would soon be strengthened.

"There can be no compromise with the quality of drugs manufactured in Bangladesh," he told a press briefing at the secretariat.

"Tougher measures will be taken against companies who do not have the right equipment to manufacture drugs properly," said Haque.

He said a top-level ministerial committee had now also been formed to investigate the children's deaths, in addition to a four-member parliamentary team formed on July 23.

"All pharmaceutical companies in the country will be examined, and if any one of them is found falling short in their production standards they will be closed," said Haque.

Also attending the briefing, the DDA director Md Ismail Hossain said one of the drug agency's functions was to ensure contaminated medicines did not reach the market.

"However, the National Drug Testing Laboratory is understaffed in comparison to the number of pharmaceutical companies," said Hossain.

He also said the Drug Administration was not solely responsible for maintaining the quality of raw materials sold in the capital for the manufacture of medicines.

"These materials come into Bangladesh through the auspices of the commerce ministry. So they also have a responsibility here," said Hossain.

The Drug Administration ordered the Rid Pharmaceutical Company on July 21 to stop production of all products, including a paracetamol suspension that was suspected of containing toxic ingredients causing kidney failure and deaths of at least 25 children in Dhaka since the start of June.

"Children have died as a result of dishonest businessmen who used low-cost raw materials in their products," said the health minister.

Haque said the ministerial committee visited children in different hospitals on Sunday, who were suspected to have fallen ill as a result of taking the contaminated drug.

He also said Rid Pharma, which was licensed in 2006, had received approval to manufacture the paracetamol suspension.

"Diagnostic tests are now being carried out by a laboratory. I should not comment further on this before the results come in," he said.

Drug Administration officials visited the company's factory in Brahmanbaria last week and took samples for testing.

The government has also formed a seven-member investigation body, which has already started collecting samples of Rid's vitamin and paracetamol suspensions from different areas of the country.

If nothing harmful is found in the products, the company will be able to resume production again, said DDA officials.


Comments Add New
Md. Nesar Ahmed  - Service holder |2009-08-03 09:44:12
Drug testing agency should arrange more visiting program to check pharmaceuticals activities of drug producing. They should certify drugs standard according to preparation method & salubrious or not. otherwise pharmaceuticals & laboratories will get opportunity to produce non salubrious drug.
Dr.A.Bakar  - Responsibily of a doctor |2009-09-07 00:51:55
Doctors should prescribe the quality medicine of time tested drug companies.
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