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Drug scam: Pakistan faces medicine shortage

Gilani Thursday directed his son Ali Musa Gilani to cut short his trip to South Africa after he had been named an accused in a pharma scam in a petition filed in the Supreme Court.

The Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) named eight accused in its petition, including Musa Gilani, the prime minister's principal secretary Khushnood Lashari and drug controller Sheikh Ansar.

Dawn reported Friday that many life-saving drugs are missing from drug stores or being sold at much higher prices following the scam over illegal sale of ephedrine, a controlled substance used in medicines.

Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association chairman Khawaja Mohammad Asad spoke of the crisis and said the authorities should take note.

"It takes about five months for a company to import a controlled substance for manufacturing a certain drug. The pharmaceutical industry is allocated inadequate quotas of controlled substances for which we have to regularly place orders. But after the ongoing scandal the entire process of their import is virtually stalled," he was quoted as saying.

He added that if the current situation persists for another few weeks, there would be a serious shortage of drugs like Diazepam.  The association says that about 400 companies in the country use controlled chemicals for manufacturing drugs. Asad said that due to depleting stocks of raw material, the companies have no option but to stop their production. 

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