Poisonous cough syrup: PPMA view
THIS refers to Ayesha Asif’s letter ‘Poisonous cough syrup’ (Dec 8). Obviously, the writer’s allegations are not based on facts as clarified below:
To call the medicine ‘poisonous’ is unfair. The product passed the tests conducted by independent labs and did not contain any poison. The unfortunate deaths occurred due to overdosage and mixing of some chemicals by the person who were mainly drug addicts and wanted to get a ‘high’ (Reference: A report, ‘Nothing wrong with Tyno cough syrup, victims overdosed’, published in a local English newspaper on Nov 27).
Another allegation levelled by the writer is that the factory had ‘no quality control’. How did she come to know about this? She could have at least ascertained facts before levelling such allegations. The plant that manufactured the cough syrup has a well-equipped quality control lab that monitors the process and the final finished product. This is part of the good manufacturing practice that all licensed manufacturers have to follow. Moreover, the production facilities are inspected regularly by a panel of experts, including federal drug inspectors and provincial drug inspectors.
By assuming that ‘no one checked the date of its expiry’ when the medicines were sent to the wholesalers, the writer has wrongly assumed that the medicines were expired. This is far from the truth. Expired medicines are never supplied in the market by manufacturers. By the way, expiry was never an issue in the case.
Regarding laws that no retailer should dispense “any sort of medicine without the doctor’s prescription as is practised in Europe and the US”, the writer may be interested in knowing that there are laws regarding this in Pakistan, but not for all medicines.
Cough syrups, vitamins, paracetamol, aspirins, and anti-diarrohoeal medicines do not require prescriptions and are allowed to be sold ‘over the counter’ in Pakistan, and in countries like Europe and the US.
We, the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association would like to inform that the pharmaceautical industry plays its role to produce safe, effective and quality medicines, and they export to 60 countries, thereby earning valuable foreign exchange for the country.
It is strongly suggested that drug inspectors and the authorities concerned in retail sales should also play their role in preventing misuse.
Executive Director/Secretary General, PPMA