ISLAMABAD, Dec 31: The capital administration on Monday imposed a ban on the sale and use of local cough syrups containing dextromethorphan, with immediate effect till further orders.
Dextromethorphan is medically defined as a ‘cough suppressant’.
According to experts, the cough suppressant is an active ingredient in many over-the-counter cold and cough medicines.
However, the ban is imposed on local manufacturers, not multinational companies or international brands using the cough suppressant.
Local manufacturers are importing dextromethorphan from India and China.
The ban was officially imposed by the health department of Islamabad keeping in view the serial deaths that took place in Lahore and Gujranwala in the past one week. “19 people were reported dead in different areas of Punjab,” according to drug inspector Sardar Shabbir Ahmed. Although no casualty has been reported in Islamabad, said the drug inspector.
District Health Officer (DHO) Islamabad Najeeb Ullah told Dawn that the use and sale of locally made cough syrups containing dextromethorphan is banned in the Capital, till further orders.
In this regard, orders were already issued by the health department to all the concerned authorities, including chemists and pharmaceuticals operating in Islamabad to strictly follow directions, he added.
Rural Health Centres, Basic Health Units and dispensaries operational in the Capital along with all the distributors were also directed to strictly follow and implement the health department’s directions.
“Apparently medicines containing the banned chemical is not harmful but the way it is used by drug addicts who mix it with other ingredients makes it lethal,” the DHO added.
“Any one found involved in violation of the orders will be dealt with strictly — cancellation of work permit, licence or sealing of facility could result,” he stressed.
The local administration has scheduled a meeting with representatives of chemists, hospitals and distributors, to discuss the issue on Tuesday (today), the DHO added.
Earlier, Drug Inspector Islamabad Sardar Shabir Ahmed submitted a summary in the office of Chief Commissioner Islamabad to impose a ban on locally made cough syrups, containing dextromethorphan, keeping in view the deaths reported in different parts of Punjab.
In response the Chief Commissioner approved the summary and imposed the ban, Mr Ahmed said.
“Any facility, whether hospital or chemist, found in violation of the ban, will be sealed,” the drug inspector warned.
“The cough syrup containing the chemical is used to cure dry cough,” he said, adding, “the demand of such chemicals is high due to the prevailing weather condition in which dry cough is spreading sharply.”
However, the cough syrup containing the chemical made by multinational companies is safe and can be used to cure cough, he said.