Poisoned chalice

Incredible though it may sound, the sad fact is that there are a meagre 18 inspectors to keep a tab on over 9,000 medical shops and 69 drug companies in Nepal. Of the 18, Kathmandu alone houses 9; Biratnagar, Birgunj and Nepalgunj hosting three each. In light of this, the vast majority of stores and companies go uninspected for long stretches of time, which, in turn, has contributed to increase in number of unregistered drug purveyors, non-renewal of licence of drug stores and dealing in expired and sub-standard drugs.

According to the Department of Drug Administration (DDA), the government body responsible for monitoring drug business activities across the country, the agency needs at least 56 more inspectors to monitor the field of medicine effectively. Drugs are life savers, but they can be deadly if dispensed by untrained personnel and when taken without the supervision of registered medical practitioners. As things stand, drug stores are dispensing drugs as they see fit. Meanwhile, many drug companies might be churning out sub-standard products. Even with nine inspectors (hardly a satisfactory number), trading in banned drugs is rampant in the nation’s capital. The situation outside can be easily imagined. Whatever the cost, there is no alternative to hiring more drug inspectors. Surely, nothing can be more important than the protection of the health of people.