Why Pakistan needs a Homoeopathic Drugs Act

HOMEOPATHY is steadily gaining popularity in Pakistan. About a fifth of our population uses homeopathic remedies. The number of homoeopaths registered with the National Council for Homoeopathy (NCH), Govenment of Pakistan, is around 60,000. The number of homoeopathic medical colleges approved by the NCH is well over a hundred. These colleges produce more than 4500 fresh homoeopaths every year as is evident from the records of the results of DHMS examinations of the past three years held by the NCH, Pakistan.

Naturally, this has created a large demand for homoeopathic pharmaceuticals, leading to a growth of the homeopathic drug market with a significant increase shown in the importation and domestic marketing of homeopathic drug products. There are no official figures but the annual consumption of homoeopathic medicinal products may be somewhere near Rs. 3 billion with imports constituting about 40% and locally manufactured medicines about 60% share of the total annual turnover.

The homeopathic industry has largely enjoyed a laissez faire regulatory approach by the Government. This has led to the flooding of the market with all types of sub-standard drugs under the label of homoeopathic medicine through deceptive promotion and advertisement. Most of such drugs contain non-homoeopathic ingredients and some are not manufactured in accordance with the principles of homoeopathic pharmacy. Even there have been reports in the press about homoeopathic drugs being spiked with steroids and other allopathic drugs.

Currently, we do not have a law to provide guidance on the regulation of homeopathic drugs and to delineate the conditions under which homeopathic drugs may ordinarily be marketed in Pakistan. The Unani, Ayurvedic and Homoeopathic Practitioners ‘ Act, 1965 does not cover the aspects relating to the manufacture, import, promotion, advertisement, sale, stocking, distribution, standardization and pricing of homoeopathic medicines. As a result, here is no check over the standard of the drugs being marketed nor are the homoeopathic drugs subjected to laboratory testing prior to their release for distribution to ascertain if steroids or other allopathic drugs have not been mixed with them.

In order to protect the health, safety and rights of users, it is essential that there should be a law to regulate the quality and standards of homoeopathic medicines. Homoeopathic medicines must meet the standards for strength, quality, and purity as set forth in the Pakistan Homeopathic Pharmacopeia. In order for homeopathic remedies to be safe and effective, and to conform to the requirements of Good Manufacturing Practice, it is essential, they should be produced in accordance with the principles of homoeopathic pharmacy as contained in the Organon of Medicine and the Chronic Diseases of Samuel Hahnemann.

There is a need to make legislation with a view to ensure efficacy, safety and quality of homoeopathic drugs sold in the market. The law should provide for compliance of good manufacturing practice by the manufacturers, for fixing drug prices and for regulation of imports, exports and registration and sale of drugs.

Delay in enforcing a law to regulate in the area of homeopathic pharmaceuticals constitutes a serious threat to the rights of consumers of homoeopathic medicinal products.

The Pakistan Times, January 12, 2004

The Monthly Homoeopath, October 2004  homeopathic, homeopathy, homoeopathic, homoeopathy, doctors, Drugs Act, medical colleges, National Council for Homoeopathy, NCH, Pakistan