The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department is establishing three regional drug testing laboratories at a cost of Rs300 million to ensure provision of quality medicines to the patients.
The new laboratories will be established in Dera Ismail Khan, Abbottabad and Swat, and funds for this purpose have been allocated in the provincial budget for fiscal year 2015-16. They will operate under the Peshawar-based provincial drug testing laboratory (DTL), which is presently undergoing upgradation process.
“We have got high-tech equipment to analyse drugs rapidly and accurately and ensure that patients get genuine medicines,” Khalid Khan, head of the provincial DTL, told Dawn.
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About 40 drug inspectors of the health department collect samples of suspicious drugs from the market and sent the same for analysis to DTL. Every month, the DTL receives about 500 samples from the province and 5-10 per cent of them are found to be fake or spurious.
We will ensure that patients get genuine medicines, says senior official
Mr Khan said that the three regional DTLs would ensure availability of genuine drugs locally, while the provincial DTL would assist these new laboratories.
Established in 1989, the provincial DTL had been coping with the problems of drugs’ quality with old equipment and machines, but wasn’t able to work to a desired level owing to the advancement of those manufacturing fake drugs.
Sources said that sometimes it wasn’t possible to analyse the unknown drugs being pumped into the market because of the unavailability of the latest machines.
“The upgradation of DTL at a cost of Rs50 million will enable us to put in place good laboratory practices and analyse the ingredients of not only allopathic, but also homeopathic, inorganic materials, unani and herbal drugs,” Mr Khan said.
He said that a new atomic absorption section was being established to analyse vitamins, inorganic salts and quantification of herbal drugs.
The DTL head said that previously the results weren’t more accurate and the method was time-consuming, but now the installation of high performance liquid chromatography machine had made it possible to give quick and correct results of all medicines.
He said that an automatic machine imported from Germany was portable and any drug could be tested anywhere in the province. “Even from the tiniest samples the equipment can draw results in shortest possible time,” he claimed.
Strengthening of microbiology lab is also part of the upgradation programme, which will enable the staff to test the bio-activity of drugs. “For example, we can see the action of interferon injection on hepatitis virus to see if the drugs are effective,” he said.
This will ultimately lead to increase in the conviction rate and the people will find genuine medicines, he said.
DTL has presently six pharmacists who cover the whole province. The DTL’s head says that he has requested the government to fill the vacant posts as part of efforts to upgrade facilities. The recruitment of seven experts, including the pharmacist, biochemist and microbiologist, will not only ensure more accuracy in the results, but would lead to fast-tracking of the procedures of drug analysis.
Capacity-building of staff to work on new equipment and machines have been completed, he said, recalling that the upgradation of DTL was ordered by the chief minister six months ago.