The High Court has asked the government to take steps to stop the production and marketing of the antibiotics penicillin and cephalosporin, cancer drugs and hormones by 28 pharmaceuticals companies within 72 hours.
The bench of Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice Md Ataur Rahman Khan issued the order and a rule on Monday after holding a primary hearing on a writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh.
The secretaries to the health and industries ministries and the director general of health services will have to submit a progress report before the court within two weeks.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) and RAB chief were ordered to cooperate with them.
In the rule, the court asked the government authorities concerned to explain as to why their inaction in stopping production of substandard antibiotic penicillin, anti-cancer drugs and hormones should not be declared illegal and why the authorities should not be directed to stop production of those medicines.
The secretaries to the health and industries secretaries, director general of Directorate General of Health Services are among the respondents who have to come up with answers to the ruling within four weeks.
The companies are - Amico Pharma, Aztec Pharmaceuticals, Bengal Techno Pharma Ltd, Benham Pharmaceuticals, Central Pharmaceuticals, Descent Pharma, Dr Tims Pharmaceuticals, Globex Pharmaceuticals, Greenland Pharmaceuticals, Inova Pharmaceuticals, Max Drugs Ltd, Medi Mate Laboratories, Modern Pharmaceuticals, Mystic Pharmaceuticals, National Laboratories, Organic Health Care Ltd, Wester Pharma, Premier Pharmaceuticals, Prime Pharmaceuticals, Seema Pharmaceuticals, White Horse Pharmaceuticals, Momtaz Pharmaceuticals, Unique Pharmaceuticals, United Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, FNF Pharmaceuticals and Techno Drugs Ltd's Units 1,2 and 3.
The rights group Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh filed the writ petition on Sunday with the High Court challenging the inaction of authorities concerned in implementing the recommendations of an expert committee appointed by the parliament.
The committee, after an investigation in February last year, asked that action be taken against the companies because they do not maintain production standards.
Counsel of the petitioner, advocate Manzill Murshid said that the expert committee had found that 84 companies were not following Good manufacturing practices (GMP) prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Quoting Drugs (Control) Ordinance 1982, he said that every manufacturer shall follow the good practices in the manufacturing and quality control of drugs recommended by the World Health Organisation. If any manufacturer does not follow such good practices its manufacturing licence may be cancelled or suspended.
“Besides, the law says that whoever manufactures, stocks or sells any sub-standard drug shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine which may extend to Tk1 lakh, or with both,” he added.