Essential Drugs – A story of corruption and betrayal of People


View Point

Essential Drugs – A story of corruption

and betrayal of People 

Prof. Kh. Saadiq Husain FRCP, FCPS

“I have read with a heavy heart an article published in Pulse International of May 15, 2015 titled “Essential Drugs, a story of corruption and betrayal of people” by Lt Gen Prof. Emeritus Mahmood Ahmad Akhtar former Surgeon General / DGMS (IS) who has been fighting virtually alone battle for the past quarter of a century! I repeat two quotes from his illuminating write up summarizing the entire story which some readers may have missed.

Prof. Kh. Saadiq Husain

  1. “Essential Drug as defined is a drug which is effective, efficacious, relatively safe, affordable, cost-effective and needed by the majority of the population. It is essentially meant to cater for the needs of the common people. India, Bangladesh and other SAARC countries developed their Essential Drug list much later but implemented them immediately and vigorously.

You also attended the conference and wrote in the “PULSE” International about my largely singular contribution. I drew the attention of the DG Health to this fact. He told me that it was just a political rhetoric of empty words, devoid of any action and substance. During this era corruption reached dizzy heights essential drugs even the life-saving ones disappeared from the market compelling the people to buy expensive irrational preparations and depriving poor people even of emergency life-saving drugs. Ferrous Sulphate for its treatment costing a few paisas disappeared from the market, while expensive irrational preparations beyond the financial reach of majority of the people inundated the market. The list is endless to mention.”…

  1. “A large number of essential drugs are not available. Due to the non availability of essential drugs, poor people cannot get treatment and that is the major reason for Pakistani population to have numerous ailments and highest maternal, neo-natal, infant, child mortality in the world, even highest among the SAARC countries. This is the country which is called the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” which is neither Islamic nor Republic nor Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan.

Representations were made to the Governments both PPP and Nawaz Sharif’s but without any effect. Later representations were made to President Musharaf and his Government but to no avail.”…

In absolute concurrence with every word in his article and with a view to emphasize its importance and the extent to which we have descended I am sending (under separate cover named “A sad story about indigenous production of Interferon”) giving the grim and an authenticated true account of how a life saving drug INTERFERON has been actively FORBIDDEN to be made available to the poor Pakistani Population which is passing through an epidemic of Hepatitis C which is taking and shall continue to take hundreds of thousands of lives, only BECAUSE the drug was CHEAP, READILY available and according to WHO standards!


Talking about quackery, I recall about 40 years ago (DURING a Martial Law regime) there was a nationwide strike by allopathic doctors to enact a law against quackery! The strike was so widespread that a special meeting was called at Islamabad involving all “super” divisions like the provincial Health divisions, the Law division, The S & GAD division, the Cabinet division (possibly a Cavalry division as well!). I was a small fry but being the then president of P.M.A Punjab was also invited.

The Meeting started punctually at 09:00 a.m. A resolution demanding a law against quackery was tabled at about 09:05 and it was unanimously approved and accepted by 09:07      ! In my ignorance and inexperience I thought that meeting is about to be over but the meeting had really NOT YET BEGUN!!! The strikers demanded to know WHEN will it become a Law? After an hour of mutual discussion between the “Divisions” they said “In 6 months”.

The strikers said “NO – Its too long – not acceptable” – So the Div went into a huddle again and after a long time came out and said, “4 months” at least! The strikers said “NO – too long – not acceptable” – So the Div went back and this went on till they came down to 3 months! WHICH WAS ALSO REJECTED. By this time it was 4 pm.

Then I lost my cool and requested to say a few words which was graciously granted. I got up and asked “Have we wiped out rape!?” The shock on the faces of the participants could be recorded on the Richter scale!

I asked again, “Have we been able to stop rape, murder and robbery just because we have a law?” I can tell you now you can NEVER stop quackery till you give the people a system of medical treatment which is cheap. Effective and readily available IRRESPECTIVE of passing a law THIS afternoon – that’s all I have to say. I have plane to catch for Lahore, thank you and I left.


I am sending the sad story separately. Since the tussle has been essentially within Islamabad and Lahore, only a small section of the medical profession even here is aware of what has been going on against all professional ethics. I would like to apprise everyone fully and correctly about what is the truth. I hope you will help in the process.”