SOUTH ASIA, DHAKA: Banned drugs prevail in the market due to negligence of the directorate f drug administration (DDA). Many drugs, which were forbidden to take for their harmful effects, were not withdrawn from the market owing to its indifference to them.
It has been observed that the drug administration does not bother to ask the manufacturers to withdraw all the samples of the drugs which have been banned for their harmful effects on patients.
For example, Rofecoxib and Valdecoxib tablets used for musculetal pain were banned in September 2005 for their adverse effects on cardiovascular system.
But these are still sold in the market under different names like Vega, Roxib, Recox and Rox-b.
Besides, antipyretic drug Nimesulide is still sold in the market under the name of Nimo and Nice which was withdrawn for Edema and Hypothermia effects in 2003.
Cisapride, an antiemetic drug, is also available in the market under the name of Cisarid though it was banned for cardiac dysrhythmia in 2002.
Different brands of Nimesulide are being sold in the wholesale markets from Tk 3.50 to Tk 5.0 per strip while drugs of Rofecoxib group is sold at Tk 6.40 to Tk 6.80.
When contacted, President of Bangladesh Association for Pharmaceuticals Industries Shafiuzzaman said they have withdrawn the samples of Rofecoxib from the market.
"So Rofecoxib which is still found in the market is perhaps counterfeit as the import of its raw materials is totally banned," he added.
Normally the manufacturing company withdraws the drug from the market at their own initiatives, Shafiuzzaman said, adding that if any banned drug is found in the market the association has nothing to do in this regard.
Only the drug administration directorate can take action in this respect, he added.
"Nimo and Nice were restricted for Dengue fever as a side effect was found a few days ago. The drug control committee decided to keep the drug under observation and import of its raw material was prohibited. But as it was not taken to the Dhaka City Corporation as an agenda, raw materials were imported under special consideration," Shafiuzzaman said.
"While the import is prohibited and lots of safe and effective antipyretic drugs are available in the market, what is the rationality of importing those harmful raw materials under special consideration? questioned Dr Mohammad Sayedur Rahman, associate professor of pharmacology department at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
The public is forced to take spurious drugs due to their availability in the market and prescribed by the doctors, he lamented.
It is not possible for the drug administration to monitor over one lakh pharmacies and 850 pharmaceutical companies with only 37 drug supers across the country, said DA Director Habibur Rahman.
"Infrastructure of the drug administration remains same as it was in 1976 when the drug market was of Tk 102 crore. But it has now increased to Tk 5000 crore," he said, adding that there was no initiative in last 15 years to upgrade the drug administration despite repeated request to the authorities concerned.
The drug administration can only file case with drug court if it finds any banned drug, he said, adding that nowadays it has been realising fine through mobile courts and during the last six months it had realised more than Tk 8 lakh in fine.
Habibur Rahman said the cell for monitoring adverse drug reaction (ADR) cannot not work properly for lack of manpower and logistics support.
It is difficult to search out the banned drugs by the drug administration from the market as the sellers don't sell them openly, said Tofayel Ahmed, member of the technical committee of drug administration.
He however said the drug administration also does not disseminate information about the status change of the drugs timely allowing the doctors to prescribe the drugs without any precaution and adding sufferings to patients.
"As the drug status changes frequently regarding their safety and uses, it needs dissemination of information to around 20 thousand practising doctors in the country. Otherwise, the doctors would prescribe the drugs without any precaution leading to huge side effects to patients," he said, adding that it is not possible for the doctors to know the changed status of around 1100 drugs under 15000 names.
Habibur Rahman claimed that the duty of drug administration is just to inform the Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) and the ministry in this regard.
Similarly, whenever they receive any information from Food Drug Administration or World Health Organisation, they disseminate it.