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HC: Sellers of adulterated drugs should be hanged

  • Published at 06:42 pm November 19th, 2019
File photo of a medicine shop in Dhaka Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

DGDA has filed a writ to the High Court about fake medicine

The High Court has observed that those who produce, store and sell adulterated medicine and food, should be awarded life imprisonment or the death penalty.

The bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader made the observation at a writ petition hearing in this regard on Tuesday.

The persons who sell adulterated medicines at pharmacies are given seven days’ imprisonment by mobile courts, which is a very negligible punishment. Those producing and selling adulterated medicine and food, should be tried under the Special Powers Act, 1974, in order to ensure their maximum punishment, the court observed.

Barrister ABM Altaf Hossain argued for the writ petitioner while Deputy Attorney General (DAG) ABM Abdullah Al Mahmud Bashar represented the state.

Lawyer Kamruzzaman Kochi stood for the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (Bangladesh) and lawyer Shah Monjurul Hoque represented the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI).

During the hearing, the state lawyer placed a report before the court which was prepared by the Department of Drug Administration. The report said medicine worth over Tk34 crore was destroyed over the last two months while over Tk1.5 crore was realized in fines by mobile courts for storing expired and adulterated medicines.

The report mentioned that the action was taken against the sale of expired, fake, and adulterated medicine from August 1 to October 31.

According to the report, mobile courts filed 572 cases after visiting 13,593 pharmacies and collected Tk1,74,93,900 in fines from August to September. Two medicine shops were also sealed off for storing expired, fake, and adulterated medicines during the period.

The bench also asked BAPI to ensure that the names and expiry dates of medicines are written clearly in Bangla on their strips and fixed December 12 for another hearing on the issue.

On June 18, the High Court ordered the government to take necessary action to stop the sale of expired medicine and destroy or withdraw it from the market within 30 days.

Secretaries to the health and family welfare ministry, home ministry, law ministry, commerce ministry, and industries ministry, director generals of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Directorate General of Drug Administration and Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, inspector general of police (IGP), and the chairman and convener of BAPI were made respondents to the writ.

In a separate directive, the High Court ordered the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection Deputy Director Manjur Mohammad Sahrir to submit a report explaining the statement he made at an event in Dhaka on June 10 that received much media attention.

In his statement, Sahrir said 93% of the pharmacies in Dhaka sell expired medicines.

The court also ordered an independent investigation committee be formed to detect expired medicine and identify suppliers.

Supreme Court lawyer Mahfuzur Rahman Milon, filed the writ—annexing newspaper reports—on behalf of rights protection organization Justice Watch Foundation, on June 17.