Health Ministry downplays NHRC drugs report

Published On: December 28, 2017 05:30 AM NPT By: Bishnu Prasad Aryal

DDA to investigate further

KATHMANDU, Dec 28: The Ministry of Health has downplayed the report of the National Health Research Council (NHRC), which recently said some life-saving drugs supplied by the government and the private sector were found substandard.

A study by the Nepal Health Research Council (NHRC), the apex scientific body for the health sector, had found nine drugs supplied by the government and private sector to the government health facilities to be substandard. According to a research by the NHRC, three essential drugs supplied by the government including Paracetamol 500mg BP (Cetophen) and six non-essential drugs supplied by the private sector failed to meet the requirements.

However, the Ministry of Health has dismissed the NHRC report as not sufficiently reliable.

“We don't take the report seriously,” said Dr Shree Krishna Giri, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health (MoH), the main regulating body. “The research by NHRC is not applicable universally as it was based on a few samples,” he argued. “We are only a policymaking body. The Department of Drug Administration (DDA) is the body responsible for taking action in such cases,” he added.

The NHRC had collected 214 samples of drugs from 90 government health facilities in various districts and sent them for in-vitro analysis in two different labs for examination. Out of the 214 samples, 26 were supplied by the government and 188 supplied by the private sector. In the lab tests, nine of them were found lacking minimum required components and compositions.

The DDA, however, admitted that the NHRC report on drugs is credible. “The report is an eye-opener for us,” said Santosh KC, senior drug administrator at the DDA, which has its own quality testing lab. 

“We will investigate further into the supplied drugs. After the results, we will take necessary action and recall the drugs from the market and health facilities if they are found substandard,” he added.

According to the DDA, Nepal manufactures drugs worth Rs 16.5 billion (46 percent) and imports drugs worth around Rs 19.45 billion (54 percent) per year. Of the 54 percent imported drugs, 52 percent come from India.

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