Allies lend conditional support: Drug authority bill sails through Senate
By: Amir Wasim
ISLAMABAD: The government succeeded in getting the Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA) Bill passed by the Senate unanimously on Wednesday, though its coalition partners said they were supporting it “conditionally”.
The bill was adopted without any hindrance after the Minister for National Regulations and Services, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, assured senators that their recommendations would be included in the bill later through amendments. Introducing the bill, the minister requested senators to let the bill pass without any amendment since it had already been passed by the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The senators, particularly those belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP) who had introduced some 18 amendments to the bill in the light of a report by the Senate committee which had also deliberated on a private member bill of MQM’s Abdul Haseeb Khan on the same subject, said they were supporting the bill only because the minister had assured them that their amendments would be incorporated in it soon.
The bill seeks establishment of the Drug Regulatory Authority to oversee the manufacture and trade of medicines after devolution of the heath sector to the provinces under the 18th Amendment.
The provincial governments through resolutions had authorised the federal government to set up the authority for inter-provincial trade and commerce of drugs and therapeutic goods to regulate, manufacture, import and export, storage, distribution and sale of therapeutic goods and medical devices and drugs research.
Abdul Haseeb Khan said he had introduced the bill as a private member and a house committee, headed by PML-N’s Zafar Ali Shah, had examined it and finalised recommendations which had also been agreed by Minister Firdous Awan. After the minister’s assurance, he said, MQM senators had no objection to the bill’s adoption by the house. The ANP’s Abdul Nabi Bangash and Kalsoom Parveen of the Balochistan National Party (BNP-A) also extended conditional support to the bill.
Leader of Opposition Ishaq Dar suggested that the proposed amendments should be incorporated in the bill only after taking the provincial governments on board. He said the provincial assemblies had approved the establishment of DRA at the federal level through resolutions and warned that any provincial assembly could withdraw the resolution if it felt frustrated because of any new amendment to the law.
COMMITTEE ON FLOODS: Chairman Nayyar Bokhari announced that a Senate committee would be formed to visit and monitor the flood relief and rehabilitation process in Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab.
The announcement came after a number of senators expressed dissatisfaction over the winding up speech of Minister for Climate Change Rana Farooq Saeed on an adjournment motion — “devastation caused by floods in Balochistan” — tabled to form the committee. Members of the committee will be announced later.
Rana Farooq informed the house that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had sent 43,000 packs of relief goods to the flood-affected people in Naseerabad and Jhal Magsi and 17,303 tents to Balochistan. The road link of Balochistan with the rest of the country was restored three days ago. Agreeing that floods had caused widespread damage in Balochistan and Sindh, the minister said recent rains were unprecedented in the country’s history. About 480 millimetres of rain was recorded in just 36 hours on Sept 9.