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Drug admin adverts draw criticism

Sajia Afrin

Multi-colour advertisements published by the directorate general of drug administration in different newspaper for three successive days seemed to favour some pharmaceutical companies including Opsonin Pharma Limited and Opso Saline Limited, experts said.

They said that the DG drug administration went out of the way to publish the advertisement spending public money in the name of issuing rejoinders.
Former Bangladesh Medical Association president Rashid-e-Mahbub, said, ‘The drug administration should not be a party to the incident. It is only over-reacting.’
Quazi Faruque, president of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh, said, ‘The director general is committing a serious crime. It seems that he is the managing director of that particular pharmaceutical company.’
However, the director general of the DG drug administration M Abul Kalam Azad on Thursday claimed that his office published a rejoinder of a report. 
‘It was not an advertisement,’ he told New Age.
On 23 March, a number of newspapers reported that the government had initiated the process of closing down 27 pharmaceutical companies for producing substandard drugs.
Health minister AFM Ruhal Haque told a meeting of parliamentary standing committee on health ministry on March 22 that the drug administration officials already visited 27 pharmaceutical companies as part of a process to cancel the licences of the companies, mentioned in the reports of the newspapers.
The companies are Central Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Dhaka), Tropical Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Dhaka), Celton Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Dhaka), Protiti Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Dhaka), Ameco Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Dhaka), Inova Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Dhaka), Desh Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Dhaka), Pharmic Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Chittagong), Standard Laboratories Ltd (Chittagong), Royal Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Chittagong), Mefnaz Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Chittagong), United Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Chittagong), White Horse Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Dhaka), Indo-Bangla Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Barisal), Paradise Chemical Industries Ltd (Barisal), Universal Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Pabna), Oasis Laboratories Ltd (Sirajganj), Rana Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Sirajganj), Doctors Chemical Ltd (Bogra), Cipla Ltd (Bogra), Bengal Techno Pharma Ltd (Dinajpur), Star Pharma (Barisal), Edruc Ltd
(Pabna), Refco Lab (Barisal), Chemist Laboratories Ltd (Barisal), Opsonin Pharma Ltd (Barisal) and Opso Saline Ltd (Barisal), the newspapers reported.
The health ministry officials gave the list of the pharmaceutical companies.
But Abul Kalam Azad said that the Drug Administration report did not mention Opsonin Pharma Limited and Opso Saline Limited as companies against which action would be taken for producing substandard drugs.
Drug Administration officials said that the two companies lodged verbal protests against the report.
The advertisement published by the drug administration on March 27 in various newspapers, termed the newspaper reports on Opsonin Pharma Limited and Opso Saline Limited ‘false and motivated.’
The advertisement said, ‘The drug administration did not send any investigation report to the parliamentary standing committee with recommendations for taking action against Opsonin Pharma Limited and Opso Saline Limited.’
On March 28, the drug administration ran another advertisement, saying, ‘The news item accusing 27 pharmaceuticals were confusing and not objective.’
It advertisement added: ‘The report which the drug administration sent to the health and family welfare ministry did not mention any name of pharmaceutical company.’
Rashid-e-Mahbub said as the reports quoted the drug administration it could send a rejoinder only to the concerned newspapers.
But how could it publish advertisements spending public money, he asked.
‘It is not their duty,’ he said.  
If the report is wrong, it is for the pharmaceutical companies to issue rejoinders, he said.
The Drug Administration has no responsibility to issue rejoinders on behalf of the pharmaceutical companies, he said.
The drug administration ad only gave publicity to particular pharmaceutical companies, said Farida Akhter, joint convener of Shasthya Andolon.

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