Banned drug Metamizole readily available at pharmacies in Pakistan

Jang news reporting the use of banned drug metamizole.jpg

In May 2006, the Drug Registration Board of Pakistan has banned metamizole, a painkiller known by its brand name ‘Novalgin’ or ‘Bascopan’, due to its injurious side effects.

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.

Hyosine compound.jpgOne 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2001 says that metamizole was placed in the consolidated list of products whose consumption and sale have been banned, withdrawn, severely restricted or not approved by the governments.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.

3 thoughts on “Banned drug Metamizole readily available at pharmacies in Pakistan”

  1. Well, that is a common place particularly in private clinics because the remedy relieves pain and fever miraculously. In this way it builds confident of the patient in the doctor, the low cost is the other factor making the drug ideal in such places. Same is the case of my mother, a mother of three specialist doctors and a lady doctors, who cannot be counseled by any mean to avoid its use. As result we are all helpless but to arrange Metamizol injections, readily available in medical stores in peripheries.

    But competition is not the only evil in this type of malpractice, sometimes it is the demand of the patient. As compared to other available painkillers and fever lowering drugs available in the form of injection like Diclofenac and Paracetamol which are administered via a painful injection in muscles, this drug is usually given intravenously with little pain.

    On my return i found another taboo here that people both male and females are reluctant to intragluteal (in the buttocks) injections, which has more space for the injected liquid resulting in comparatively little pain. Injections in the arm is on the other hand more painful.

    The second option of prompt pain relief is the use of narcotic preparations, used very cautiously in common practice and known for its addictive and sleep inducing properties and of course the risk of complete depression of breathing.

    Therefore competition, general attitude of masses, social taboos and the greed of money manufacturers add to the impotency of the drug regulatory authorities.


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