Non- Availability of life saving essential drugs

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Non- Availability of life saving essential drugs

RAWALPINDI: It is sad to say that Pakistan is the only country in the world where many of the “Essential drugs” listed by the WHO, are either not available or are scarcely available say Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmad Akhtar former Surgeon General of Pakistan Army.

The latest essential drugs to vanish from the market are sulpha-azopyridine and vaccines. Sulpha-azopyridine is used for the treatment of Rheumatoid arthritis, a destructive joint disease also affecting adversely other vital organs of the body. The drug is particularly valuable for the treatment of female patients during the reproductive period as other drugs like methotrexate are teratogenic. It has further advantage that it is in-expensive, therefore cost-effective. Due to its non-availability, patients are suffering miserably. Sulpha-azopyridine is also used for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. Ironically an expensive non-essential drug not within the reach of common people is available in abundance. This substitute is not effective for Rheumatoid arthritis.

These days many life- saving vaccines have disappeared from the market. Many life-saving anti-bacterials like Pencillin V, Nitrofurantoin, Trimethoprim, and Cloxacillin/Fluocloxacillins are not available since long and so are many other essential drugs like anti-snake venom and anti-dotes to poisons etc. Ata the same time many drugs are sold in the black-market at exorbitant prices beyond the reach of the common man.

Pakistan’s markets are flooded with irrational harmful drugs not registered in other countries, robbing people of their health (toxicity) and meager finances and the debt-ridden country of its scarce foreign exchange. One glaring example is the irrational drug ‘Tricadinin’ which is being abused on a large scale in Pakistan not approved by any scientific authority. Unfortunately neither the Govts in Pakistan nor the political parties are concerned with the pathetic plight of the people. The digital media is involved in non-issues and not the serious problems affecting the people. Equally deplorable is the attitude of medical associations/ specialty organizations that do not raise their voice to safeguard the interests of patients.

It is the constitutional and moral duty of the Govts of Pakistan to make life-saving essential drugs available to the people of Pakistan at all the places and at all times. It is pertinent to note that the “Essential drugs” are available freely in the SAARC countries even without cost to the poor people, General Mahmud Ahmad Akhtar remarked.

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