Islamabad: Record shows juniors repeatedly informed Lashari about fraud
ISLAMABAD: The record of Health Ministry regarding Rs7 billion ephedrine scam, allegedly involving ex–PM’s son Ali Musa Gilani and Makhdoom Shahabuddin, clearly mentions that former secretary health Khushnood Lashari was informed, time and again, by junior officers about the fraud of two companies getting jacked-up quota of the controlled substance and of its possible misuse but all such intimations fell on deaf ears. Documents reveal that the two companies—M/s Berlex Lab International Multan and M/s Danas Pharma—got the ephedrine quota of 9,000 kg for export to Afghanistan and Iraq on suspicious documents yet the concerned officials, secretary health being at the top, turned a blind eye to it.
The juniors had been intimating Lashari that immense pressures were exerted on the ministry first to allocate ephedrine quota for the two companies. The secretary was also informed about the possibility that the controlled substance, ephedrine, might go to illicit channels.
One Sayyed Hussain Khan, DDC (I&E), wrote a note dated 14–01–2011 saying: “It is submitted that in year 2010 M/s Danas Pharmaceuticals, Islamabad was allocated the quota of Ephedrine HCL 2500 for export purpose. Subsequently on the request of the firm the quota for the export purpose was converted into the permission for local manufacturing. The record and compliance of the firm with respect to controlled substance is questionable keeping in view the following question marks:
“The firm got the allocation of 2500 kg quota of Ephedrine HCL for export purpose to Afghanistan. This request and approval was suspected because the quota of Afghanistan was only 50 kg. The original import authorisation from Afghanistan authorities was also not submitted. A big question mark was raised in such cases by the then ADC and DC–R while submitting the file to the Secretary Health. Pressures were exerted for conversion of export quota into the permission for local manufacturing. Similar intense pressure was exerted by M/s Berlex Multan for getting quota of 6000kg ephedrine for tablets.”
Another correspondence bearing No F.10-38/2010–I&E dated 30–12–2010 says: “Demand of precursors like ephedrine for tablet formulation has abnormally increased during 2010. The national requirement for ephedrine tablet is between 50–100 kg as per IMS data. Meaning thereby that the abnormal allocation may have gone into illicit channels instead of medical. We may therefore cut the annual requirement beyond 100 kg of ephedrine for tablets.”
Even on 15–12–2010 the then secretary health was told in writing by Deputy DG Health Muhammad Tanvir that “the Ministry of Health experienced immense pressure in the recent past for quota allocation of this narcotic drug and the precursor substance (Ephedrine tablets) having huge misuse potential in manufacturing of narcotic drug and don’t have any medical need beyond 100kg annually for whole country. It is likely that there will be immense pressure from different quarters for non-cancellation and withdrawal and also for enhancement of quota for these drugs. Therefore, the Secretary Health may please like to bring the matter in the kind notice of Honourable Minister for Health.”
In October 2010 when M/s Berlex Lab International Multan requested for enhancement of another 2,500kg quota of ephedrine. Lashari was informed in black and white by junior officers that “M/s Berlex had already received 6000kg for toll manufacturing of Ephedrine for M/s Can Pharmaceuticals Multan for export purpose to Iraq. It is worthwhile to mention that Iraq has annual national quota of only 3000 kg for ephedrine. Prima facie it seems that the demand made by the company was 3000 kg more than the national allocation of Iraq. Therefore, the company may have balance quota of at least 3000 kg in their hand being the manufacturer for M/s Can Pharmaceuticals Multan.”
The secretary was told the company might utilise the access 3,000kg of ephedrine but documents reveal that the secretary health allocated 500 kg ephedrine quota for M/s Berlex for its newly registered product. It was because of this 500 kg allocation of ephedrine that made 6,500 kg for M/s Berlex in total. This correspondent could not contact Lashari despite efforts.