Developed countries like USA, UK, Norway, Singapore, Australia and Sweden have reportedly banned metamizole, manufactured by multinational company Aventis, a long time ago on the same grounds. Manufacturers and distributors were bound to report to the Health Ministry that they had destroyed stocks of the banned stuff. It has been 3 years since the decision has been taken to ban the drug but it is still available in the market and being continually manufactured by pharmaceutical companies of less repute.
Metamizole was introduced in Pakistan and around the world by Hoechst, a German company, in the early 1970s and it soon became a drug of choice with doctors and non-doctors alike for reducing high fever. In 1977, the US banned the drug for causing a blood cancer-like effect in one out of 30,000 consumers. Trials showed that the drug destroys white blood cells.
One of the controversial injectable formulae is available at local pharmacies, a pack of 30 ampule of 5 millilitre Hyoscine Compound says in its warning note that the drug contains Metamizole Sodium/Dipyrone, which may cause agranulocytosis. By all standards, a pack of Hyoscine Compound injections available at a local pharmacy clearly carries a warning in Urdu that the drug may cause extreme depletion of white blood cells.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), a pharmaceutical restrictions report updated in March, 2001 says that metamizole was placed in the consolidated list of products whose consumption and sale have been banned, withdrawn, severely restricted or not approved by the governments.
In its June 2007 verdict, Peshawar High Court (PHC) had dismissed a petition of a pharmaceutical company, selling banned drugs. “If medicine companies remain indifferent to the government’s ban on harmful tablets, how will a common man know about the ban,” a division bench of PHC maintained.
The matter should be dealt with responsibility by the health ministry and government should ban such pharmaceutical companies which are not abiding by the rules and regulations of Drug registration board.