Remove, destroy expired medicines in a month

HC asks government

The High Court (HC) on Tuesday ordered the government to remove all date-expired drugs from the market within a month. Besides, it also directed the authorities concerned to destroy date-expired drugs within the stipulated time. Apart from these, the HC also directed the authorities concerned to submit a report before it after complying with the order by July 16.

Earlier Manzur Mohammad Shahriar, a deputy director of the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection at a programme said some 93 percent of the pharmacies in the capital have stored expired medicines. And the most pharmacies in the country are at fault, as they keep some expired medicines in their shops.

The HC bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahsan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader gave the order after a writ petition filed by Barrister Mahfuzur Rahman Milon, Executive Director of Justice Watch Foundation. Earlier on Monday Barrister Mahfuzur Rahman filed the writ petition and sought necessary order in this regard following reports published in different newspapers.

Barrister ABM Altaf Hossain appeared for the writ petitioner. The HC also issued a rule giving a directive to the authorities concerned to explain in four weeks why their inaction to remove the date-expired medicines from the pharmacies should not be declared illegal. Secretaries of Health, home, law and industries, director general of the directorate general of health services, director general and deputy director of National Consumer Rights Protection, inspector general of police, president and general secretary of Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries and editors of Prothom Alo and The Daily Star have been respondent to the rule.

After investigating over the last six months, between November 2018 and April 2019, in the field, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection found that expired medicines are being sold at 93 percent of the pharmacies in Dhaka city. The officials of Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection have conducted mobile court drives at 200 pharmacies in different areas of the capital and found expired drugs at about 186 stores. Many medicine business establishments have been fined under the Consumers’ Protection Act for stocking medicines beyond their expiration dates. Also, some of the establishments have been temporarily shut down.

The deputy director of Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, Manzur Mohammad Shahriar also said the directorate has formed teams to monitor the markets to prevent such violations. “We have directed the drug stores to keep the expired drugs separated from other medicines and put the tag ‘Not for Sale’ on the packets,” he said, adding that “We are trying our best to make the pharmacy owners aware”.

Niaz Rahim, the President of the Bangladesh Supermarket Owners’ Association, said, “Bangladesh is now self-sufficient in food because of the various programmes taken up by the government. While there is no fear of a food crisis, the major challenge now is to ensure food safety.”