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PPMA Circular regarding PIC case and the effect on Pharmaceutical exports from Pakistan

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PPMA Circular No. 016/2012PPMA-logo

February 10, 2012

To:        All Member Companies of PPMA


Dear Members,

As you may already know regarding the unfortunate deaths reported at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology in the past few weeks.  We, the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (PPMA), the representative body of the Pakistan pharma industry have been shocked by this tragedy and have full sympathies with the affected families.  We have been having contacts and meetings with the authorities and also with the technical personnel in our member companies all over Pakistan.  The main purpose of the contacts and meetings was to

1. To ascertain the facts

2. To review the Quality Assurance/ Quality Control and cGMP guidelines and SOPs for validation.

These measures would be vital to prevent any further mishap of this nature.

Coming now to the facts; the samples were sent to the government labs as well as independent labs in the UK and Belgium.  So far we have seen reports of one batch from a particular company being contaminated.  However, we are unable to share the details as the matter is subjudice as the Supreme Court of Pakistan has taken Suo Moto notice of the entire matter.

We would like to mention here that due to lot of hype created by the media, panic has been created in the public’s mind that all locally produced medicines are spurious and sub-standard.  We started getting enquiries from the foreign buyers of our medicines, asking our manufacturers to clarify the matter.  In at least two cases, the orders have been cancelled by the foreign buyers.  We held press conference in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad where we stated the facts of the matter with a view of restraining the media not to spread the misinformation campaign as it would shatter the trust that the National pharma industry has built in the public over several decades, and would lead to its collapse, paving way for counterfeits to fill the vacuum that would be created in the market.  The National pharma industry is exporting to over 60 countries and the total exports are around USD 170 million.  40% of the leading brands of medicines marketed by MNCs in Pakistan are manufactured by National companies under contract manufacturing. This is reflective of the quality manufacturing of the National industry and the trust reposed in it.  We would like to mention that the exported drugs also undergo stringent quality control checks in their respective importing countries (case in point, Afghanistan where all batches are quarantined for 15 days by their Ministry of Health and then released for marketing after QC clearance), suggesting additional safeguards for the patients.

Incidence like this one, though unfortunate, happens even in developed markets and big MNCs have recalled contaminated batches, after deaths were reported.  We strongly feel that the entire industry’s image should not be damaged because of once in a lifetime incident like this one.

We hope that we have been able to give our viewpoint, and would like to assure you that the PPMA is doing whatever it can to prevent such an occurrence in the future.  Our members have already started the process of re-validation in their manufacturing process.  We seek your understanding and support in the matter.

Thanks and regards

Riaz Hussain

Executive Director/ Secretary General PPMA

c.c.      Mr. Tariq Ikram, Acting Chairman PPMA

           Mr. Muhammad Asad, Chairman PPMA (on leave)

PIC case gets a new twist | Efroze Chemicals ISOTAB was not prescribed to most of the victims – Mubashir Luqman

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Free medicine at Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) becomes a death sentence. 130 plus deaths. Political mud-slinging. Conspiracy theories. Spurious accusations. Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry in trouble. Catch up on the news first then read on.

Now that you are up-to-date on this bizarre story here’s a new twist! (Forward to around the 27 second mark)

What’s that now? Mubashir Luqman is on Dunya TV saying Efroze Chemical’s ISOTAB, the alleged killer drug, was not even prescribed to most of the PIC patients who died? Yes read that again. ISOTAB may not have been prescribed to those who died. Wait wasn’t the anti-malarial inadvertently added to ISOTAB conclusively responsible as the cause of death? Talha bin Ayub wrote a few days back in a guest blog on Teeth Maestro that things don’t add up medically and that a overdose from the anti-malarial can be reversed also.

We need to step back and really investigate this whole incident properly without political circuses or lynch mobs baying for blood. For the sake of the 130 plus who passed away. For the sake of the thousands that may die in the future if this entire episode is not used to structure the pharmaceutical industry, to build in safeguards, to strengthen our institutions, and to protect our people.

What do you think of this entire episode and these new developments?

From The Archives – The Coup In Pakistan

The below article written by Aly B was originally published on November 15, 1999 in the opinion section of Technician


Being a citizen of Pakistan, I am always in touch with what is happening in my homeland. The recent coup that toppled the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif catapulted Pakistan to the front page of every major newspaper in the world. However, the event, which might seem like something major and unusual for Americans, came as no surprise to Pakistanis. For us it wasn’t a matter of if but when the Army would move in.

Since Pakistan’s independence in 1947, the Army has always played a major role in the political status quo in the country. Having been under military rule almost half the time, coups are no stranger to Pakistan. Even during civilian governments, especially in the last 10 years, the Army has had the role of kingmakers. Thus, for Pakistanis, military rule is nothing new. In 1988, the rule of the last dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, ended when his plane was blown up. This brought about a restoration of “democracy” in Pakistan. With a literacy rate of less than 15%, and a tyrannical feudal system, Pakistan has never had a government of the people, by the people and for the people. There are two main political parties in Pakistan, namely the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), headed by Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), headed by Benazir Bhutto. After the death of General Zia, Benazir Bhutto became the Prime Minister. However, she, along with her spouse Asif Zardari, used this term to steal from the coffers and to hoard cash abroad in Swiss Banks. Then, after her government was sacked by the President, Nawaz Sharif had his shot at screwing up the Pakistani economy and to build up his industrial empire. Once more, Bhutto came back in power after Sharif got dismissed for corruption, and instead of learning from her past mistakes continued to steer Pakistan on its course to bankruptcy. Once more, she was sacked on charges of corruption. This brought Sharif back into power again.

This time round, Sharif had a huge majority in the parliament and used this power to strip the President of his powers to dismiss governments, to humble the judiciary and to crack down on the press. His mismanagement of the economy and hoarding of personal wealth soon led to conditions ripe for a military takeover. In December 1998, Sharif started working on destroying the last remaining institution that had some integrity left. Due to this conflict, the then Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Jehangir Karamat resigned from his position and Sharif picked General Pervez Musharraf to be the new COAS. In appointing Musharraf, Sharif bypassed the senior generals to ensure he would have someone who would remain loyal to him. However, when he began to play with the integrity of the army again, Musharraf quickly moved in his troops and toppled over the government. In order to legalize his move, Musharraf declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution. However, he was careful to point out that this was not Martial Law and that the constitution had been put in abeyance temporarily.

This coup was widely criticized by the Western governments. The United States immediately called for a restoration of democracy threatening Pakistan with the usual sanctions, which incidentally were already in effect since Pakistan blasted its way into the nuclear club last summer. This call for restoration of democracy had an ulterior motive for the US government. Musharraf was a wild card for the US since he was less likely to be influenced by threats than a civilian government would have been. Also there was no assurance that Musharraf wouldn’t begin selling nuclear technology to Pakistan’s neighbors, Iran, and Afghanistan. Thus, it was in the best interests of the superiority of US to call for a restoration of democracy. However, following this initial criticism, the US has largely ignored the situation in Pakistan. The reason for this can be found in the statement of Milton Bearden, the former CIA chief in Sudan and Pakistan, to a sub-committee of the Senate Foreign Relations committee for South Asia.

“General Pervez Musharraf is a member of the last generation of Pakistani army officers who remember the military partnerships of the past with the US. He was trained at Fort Bragg and was an early member of the elite 19th Baloch Regiment, the Pakistani SSG, that trained jointly with US army special forces a decade ago. If we choose to engage Pakistan, even cautiously, Musharraf might be able to guide elements within Pakistani society away from the dangerous, fundamentalist path so many seem to be taking out of desperation.”

In other words, Musharraf is one of ours and we can utilize him to reestablish our control of the region again. Indeed, if the US is to curb Pakistan from siding with the more extremist countries out there, it has to maintain its hold over the country. Hence, the plea from Bearden to ease up on Pakistan. Cutting off aid to Pakistan would be like stomping on the fingers of someone hanging on the edge of a cliff.

For Pakistan, Musharraf may just be what the doctor ordered. A country that is rife with corruption and on the edge of bankruptcy, Pakistan needs some drastic measures to get it back on track. Doing this means purging the political parties from corrupt elements, taking measures to stabilize the economy and cleaning up the mess that has been left by the last few governments. Indeed the steps he has taken so far seem to be in the best interest of the country. Mr. Majyd Aziz, the chairman of the SITE Association of Industry (SITE is the largest Industrial Estate in Pakistan), endorsed Musharraf’s choice for the new finance chief, saying that he finds Mr. Shaukat Aziz (until recently a director of CitiBank) “a well respected person, who is not an armchair theorist, but someone who knows about economics and the fundamentals of business hands down. He is well known in the Western world for his business acumen and, if given a free hand, I believe he can deliver the goods.” On the new Foreign Minister, Mr. Abdus Sattar, he added: “He is a hawk, well experienced and an expert on nuclear matters. Being an ex-bureaucrat, he knows how to present his country’s views and will be able to project the country’s foreign policy with conviction and confidence.” (Source: Business Line, an Indian Financial Daily).

An editorial in the Dawn, a daily newspaper in Pakistan, expressed its confidence in the actions of the new Chief Executive of Pakistan but added a note of caution, by urging the military regime not to forget that “prolonged deviations from the democratic path have invariably led to more problems than have been solved. All the military regimes proved disastrous for Pakistan. The present military rulers must guard against the dangers of moving in the same direction.”

A Symphony of Misery

It is said that Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burnt. The phrase ‘’Let them eat cake” is attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette, purported to be said at the peak of a bread crisis in post-revolution France. Whether these alleged incidents are true or not is a matter of debate for historians. We can only discuss that which is here, that which is now.

Pakistani people line up to buy sugar and wheat flour at controlled rates at the Sunday Bazaar in Rawalpindi on August 30, 2009. Depleted crops, international prices at 30-year highs and hoarding are variously blamed for Pakistan's latest commodity price hike, forcing the federal government to eye costly imports to stabilise prices. Pakistan is Asia is the third-largest user of sugar and the world's fifth largest producer of sugar cane, according to the Pakistan Sugar Mills Assocation. (Source: Getty Images)As the common man lines up outside stores in the clamor for sugar, the backdrop is that of multiple suicide bombings per week. Markets, mosques, hotels, schools and colleges all are no longer sacred grounds. Targets vary from the military to foreigners to innocent school children. The army is fighting a war in the North against the Taliban. And amidst it all, where are our esteemed leaders? They are sitting in the parliament debating an issue of extreme importance: the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

“If approved, the ordinance will tarnish the country’s image,” warned Nawaz Sharif

(Though the breaking news from late last night is that El-Presidente sat with Maulana Diesel and Dr Farooq Sattar and decided to not present NRO to the parliament)

As the fiddlers play a mighty tune in the halls of power, life outside continues for the common man. Meanwhile in the comforts of his chambers, the hero of the downtrodden, the commander of the black coats, the champion of the masses strums a different tune on his guitar.

“You will have to sell sugar at Rs 40 per kilogram until the submission of the report by the proposed commission,” said the chief justice

Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudry  I don’t know much about the Chief Justice’s schooling but of one thing I am sure: he didn’t study economics or business studies. How in the name of all that is holy does the CJ expect any trader to sell at Rs 40, something that is being supplied from the source at Rs 57 or so? In all his wisdom, the Chief Justice managed to make sugar scarce in the market. So much that it is now a black market item and prices can range from Rs 80 to 120 depending on the area. Senor Chaudhry in his uneducated attempt to alleviate the suffering of his people, has left a bitter taste in the mouth for many.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, is escorted by Pakistani Rangers at the Iqbal Memorial in Lahore, Pakistan, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Mansoor Ahmed) In the meantime we were blessed last week by a visit of the emissary of his Royal Highness, King Obama the First. Ms Clinton swept in prior to our first handout under the Kerry-Lugar bill to make sure we were thankful for the bone our masters threw our way. The fact that it came with a new leash is of course a whole different story. And the honorable lady, ignoring the countless lives that Pakistan has laid down in the fight America started, smacked us in the face with a taunt.

“Al-Qaida has had safe haven in Pakistan since 2002,” Clinton told senior newspaper editors in the country’s cultural capital, Lahore.

“I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to,” she added.

Flame breaks out after an explosion in Peshawar, Pakistan on Wednesday Oct. 28, 2009. A car bomb has torn through a market place in northwestern Pakistan, hours after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in the country. (AP Photo/Mohammad Iqbal)Oh yeah. We love this game of hide and seek. Of course we know where Bin Laden is. We just love to see our people blown away (147 lost their lives in the fireworks show in Peshawar arranged for Lady Clinton’s visit). And the offensive in the North is just target practice for our military to keep them happy and well oiled. Why a shoe didn’t come flying towards Lady Clinton is a perplexing mystery.

As the orchestra continues to play this grand symphony, outside the grand halls of eliteness, another morning has dawned for the common man. A morning filled with the worries of spiraling inflation, the fear of sending kids to school, and a cup of tea with no sugar.


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The following piece was received via e-mail with the following message:

This is an article the Pakistani newspapers would not print
Please circulate as widely as possible
Circulated on the internet on 17 September 2009

The author does not have any affiliation with From The Pulpit and any views expressed within this piece are those of the author and may or may not conincide with those of From The Pulpit.


By Ameer Bhutto

In his book ‘How the Steel was Tempered’, Nikolai Ostrovsky wrote

Man’s dearest possession is life. It is given to him but once, and he must live it so as to feel no torturing regrets for wasted years, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, dying he might say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world – the fight for the Liberation of Mankind.

Such is the aura of intense romance that national liberation movements are born from. The struggle for an independent Pakistan too was rooted in just such a romance. But the romance began to turn sour at a very early stage as the basic premise of the independence movement contained in the Pakistan Resolution, i.e. equal rights for all nations in Pakistan, was never honored. A plethora of issues arising from the trashing of this grundnorm has systematically eroded the foundations of the state, steadily reversing the positive trends established in the early days. As a consequence of this, as well as subsequent failures of successive governments that opened the door for military adventurism, Pakistan now occupies a top ten slot on the list of failed states, whereas India has become a regional superpower. Not only that, but China, which gained independence two years after Pakistan, is a global superpower and even Malaysia, which gained independence ten years after Pakistan is among the most advanced and developed countries in the world.

The situation in Pakistan at present is worse than ever before. The edifice of state, already decayed due to the mistakes and misfortunes of the past, has been pushed to the brink of collapse under the present dispensation. Vital state institutions are in an advanced state of decomposition, our social fabric lies in shreds, the bond of nationhood is weaker than ever before, our national sovereignty is under attack and is in ruins and our survival as a state is at stake.

Superpowers have always exercised significant influence over Pakistan. The only leader who had the guts to resist their influence found himself on the gallows. But never before has the extent and scope of foreign influence been as all-encompassing as it now is. In the wake of 9-11, US security interests in this region escalated many fold overnight and the Americans felt they needed a strong foothold in South Asia. Hence the ‘You are either with us or against us’ ultimatum from Secretary of State Colin Powell to President Musharraf and Musharraf’s immediate capitulation. Since then, the United States has systematically extended comprehensive control over Pakistan, reducing it to a vassal state or a colony. They feel they have too much at stake vis-à-vis their own security to chance leaving things to incompetent, corrupt Pakistanis and they are well on their way to fully occupying Pakistan, as they have occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. The difference is that the Iraqis and Afghanis resisted whereas our government has welcomed them with open arms. Since the last several years, Americans have reportedly been deploying a significant number of personnel all over the country, particularly in Islamabad, where entire sectors of town are now under American control and even local law enforcement agencies are not allowed to enter, and also in Peshawar, where the Americans have reportedly decided to purchase the bombed ruins of the Pearl Continental Hotel to establish a consulate. The day can not be far when we too might be treated to the Blackwater horror show on our own soil.

Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke has adopted the airs of a viceroy and marches into the Aiwan-e-Sadar and Prime Minister’s House at will every fortnight. Pakistani politicians are told when to launch long marches and when to stop, whom they may criticize and whom they may not criticize, when they may speak up and when they must shut up. So pathetic is the state of our national sovereignty that now even the Saudis have gotten into the act. Immoral and illegal deals struck by disreputable and crooked politicians under the sheltering aegis of foreign powers to escape accountability for corruption and harm caused to the country have made a mockery of our constitution and laws, which are easily bypassed with a nod from the foreign powers. First there was the deal to patch up differences between Musharraf and the Peoples’ Party in October 2007, as a consequence of which the loot and plunder of the nation and even murder cases were forgiven. Then, less than a year later, another deal was struck to give Musharraf safe passage into retirement, with continued full presidential protocol and security and a full pardon of his heinous crimes against the nation. Recently, Zardari has admitted to being part of this deal, though later he denied any such admission. His denial, however, carries little water in light of confirmation on the part of Makhdoom Amin Fahim of such a deal. These shady deals have now replaced the constitution and writ of law as the foundation of the system of government in Pakistan because the narrow vested interests of our new colonial masters so dictate. After Zardari’s confession, all flimsy and hollow pretences of democracy and rule of law stand exposed as a cruel joke. Any lingering vestiges of national sovereignty and independence are gone. We are once again a colony. The Yanks have replaced the Brits as the new gora sahibs.

Where is our elected government in all this mess? Why have they not stood up for national interests? They are busy pandering to the new colonial masters to prolong their hold on power under their tutelage and, of course, making hay while the sun shines. The current dispensation has gone further than Musharraf in appeasing the Americans. The customary, toothless protests against American drone attacks are heard no more and they have thrown open the doors to the illegal entry of American personnel, reportedly without visas, and turned a blind eye to their de facto occupation of substantial portions of Islamabad. In return for the government’s cooperation, the new imperialists have given them a loose reign, for now, to set new records of loot and plunder and generally run amok. But in this wild feeding frenzy, the government has abandoned the public to its own miserable fate, believing like so many client regimes of the past, that US backing alone is sufficient to sustain them in power.

During eighteen months of power, apart from bending over backwards to appease the Americans, everything this government has done has been aimed solely at securing its hold on power. They sought to replace the elected PML(N) Punjab government with Governor’s Rule for which all they got was humiliation. They refused to restore the judges but then had to do so ignominiously under pressure of the long march. Most recently, they have unleashed Brigadier Imtiaz Billa on PML(N), which too is beginning to backfire. But throughout all this wheeling and dealing for power, there has been no relief whatsoever for the people. The Benazir Income Support Program, which is a new name given to the old Usher, Zakat and Baitulmal schemes, is riddled with corruption and graft. The distribution of cheap flour in Ramzan has led to bloodshed and horrifying degradation and humiliation of women who have no choice but to line up among crowds of men if they are to feed their children. Nineteen women are trampled to death while queuing for cheap flour in Karachi and all the government can do is ‘take notice’ of the incident. Unprecedented sums of billions of rupees supposedly allocated for development schemes have been placed under the ‘supervision’ of favored jiyalas as reward for past services. Despite the government’s best efforts at global begging, it has failed to secure significant economic aid from even close friends such as China and the so-called ‘Friends of Pakistan’, and now even America, have refused to cough up more cash until every penny can be accounted for. And all this while, unprecedented wastage on lavish government expenditure, especially pointless foreign junkets, lawlessness, high prices, poverty, unemployment and corruption are rampant and have made life unlivable for most citizens.

Ultimate sovereign political power rests with the people. The future depends on them and their disposition will decide the fate of the country. They have never had it so bad. For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the workers and supporters of a ruling party have turned on their own government and the Sindh Chief Minister and other ministers are regularly humiliated at public occasions by their own party men. But, inexplicably, instead of withdrawing their support from a failed government which they clearly despise and looking for better alternatives, jiyalas continue to latch on in the vain hope that some scraps may fall from the high table of the rulers on which they might feast. Precious few care about what happens to the country or vital state institutions. Even fewer bother to distinguish between right and wrong or good and bad. The rulers understand this and from time to time toss some scraps to the bickering rabble to silence them and they are sated for a while, but national interests suffer.

With the United States embarked on the systematic occupation of Pakistan and our rulers concerned only about personal gain and holding on to power at all costs, who is looking out for Pakistan? We appear to be on a shortcut to a very bleak future. The only way to escape obliteration is for the masses to awaken and arise. Nothing can stand in their way. Nothing is impossible for them. Our rulers and their new colonial masters have their own vested interests at heart and it is futile to vest any hopes in them. This country belongs to the people and only they can, and must, save it. 

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