Over a dozen young researchers and healthcare professionals from across the country were selected for research in the areas of paediatrics, diabetes, hypertension, cardiology, endocrinology, gynaecology, orthopaedics, infectious diseases, and other key segments of health sciences in the first initiative of its kind in Pakistan, with a timeline to complete their studies within 18 months.
The project, which was designed and launched by the Pharmevo Research Forum, involved 19 Pakistani candidates who were each awarded grants of up to Rs300,000 for research work that would lead to the identification of areas that required immediate government attention, policymaking, healthcare solutions with modifications, and innovative ideas for providing the best and low-cost treatment facilities to Pakistanis.
Leading researchers and healthcare experts speaking at the launch ceremony expressed regret that the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), which was “expected and supposed” to approve clinical trials and research in the field of medicine, had instead become a major roadblock in approving such projects due to a lack of qualified people to make timely decisions.
They argued Pakistanis and other South Asians were ethnically and genetically distinct from Western people, and that clinical trials of medications developed in the West should be conducted on them before they are authorised by local regulatory bodies.
“People of Pakistan and other South Asians are different than those in the Europe and Americas, and research has proven that we metabolise medicines differently than people in the West. There is a need to start local trials of medicines and collect indigenous data to come up with local solutions of different diseases and health conditions,” said an eminent physician and director of Clinical Trials Unit at Aga Khan University, Prof Saeed Hamid.