By Shadi Khan Saif
The licenses of more than 900 local and foreign medicine importing firms were suspended on Sunday on charges of smuggling and violation of rules.
The Ministry of Public Health made the decision in the wake of a 12-week campaign against counterfeit and substandard medicine being imported and sold across the war-ravaged country.
Speaking at a news conference in capital Kabul, National Medicine and Health Product Regulatory Authority (NMHPRA) Director Noor Shah Kamawal said the licenses of 817 local and 113 foreign medicine importing companies had been cancelled.
“We have targeted those companies that were continuously violating rules and regulations, they have now been given one month time to stop violations and share their documents with us,” he said.
According to Health Ministry, Afghanistan imports medicine worth around $300 million annually, mainly from Pakistan, Iran, India, Turkey and Bangladesh.
More than 1,100 pharmaceutical firms were registered with the government.
Besides the crackdown on importers, the NMHPRA is also looking into the affairs of some 14,500 registered pharmacies across the country.
Kamawal said more than 100 tons of expired, counterfeit and substandard medicine had been seized from different pharmacies during the campaign so far.
The healthcare system in Afghanistan has crippled following more than 40 years of raging violence, leaving the poor and the needy on the mercy of aid while those who can afford better healthcare, usually travel to Pakistan, India and Turkey for treatment.