The High Court verbally instructed the Directorate General of Drug Administration today to file cases under the Special Powers Act against any organisation that has been found guilty before of selling adulterated or expired medicines.
The High Court says punishments given by mobile courts are not sufficient in these circumstances.
The High Court bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahsan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader gave the instruction during a hearing on a writ petition. The court has fixed December 12 for further directions on the writ.
Barrister ABM Altaf Hossain stood for the petitioner while Deputy Attorney General ABM Abdullah Al Mahmud Bashar stood for the state. Barrister Kamruzzaman Kochi and Barrister Shah Monjurul Hoque appeared on behalf of the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection and the Bangladesh Medicine Industry Association respectively.
The Directorate General of the Drug Administration submitted a report on its action on the selling of adulterated and expired medicine to the court during the hearing.
The report said expired medicines worth more than Tk34 crore had been destroyed from August 1 to October 21, 2019. The directorate had also realised more than Tk1.73 crore from different pharmacies as fines for selling expired or counterfeit medicines.
Mobile courts inspected more than 13,000 pharmacies during the period and filed 572 cases. Two pharmacies were sealed during the drive.
The Bangladesh Medicine Industry Association's lawyer Barrister Shah Monjurul Hoque told journalists, "We welcome the drive. We do not want any counterfeit medicine in the market either."
Deputy Attorney General Abdullah Al Mahmud Bashar said, "Under the special acts, the punishment for being found guilty a second time for selling adulterated or expired medicine could result in a life-sentence, or even the death penalty. So we are warning everyone who commits such crimes."
"The court has directed the medicine industry to stop influencing doctors with benefits through their medical representatives," he added.
The Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection will submit a report within December 12 on action taken against the selling of expired or counterfeit medicines.
On May 10, Monjur Mohammad Shahriar, deputy director of the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, said, "Around 93 percent of the pharmacies in Dhaka sell expired medicines."
On June 17, Mahfuzur Rahman Milon, a Supreme Court lawyer, filed a writ petition on this issue on behalf of the Justice Watch Foundation.
On June 18, following a writ petition, the court directed authorities to take legal action against those involved in the sale of expired drugs.