The number of the country’s pharmacy without license will probably outnumber licensed shops numbering about 97,000. The reasons can be attributed to shortage of manpower of the Directorate General of Drug Administration on the one hand and indifference of a section of its employees on the other , it is alleged. Golam Kibria, a director of the Directorate of Drug Administration (DA) told The New Nation on Wednesday,” We have asked our offices in the divisions and districts to send a list of those who are in pharmacy business without license. Those who are doing business without license , will be asked to obtain license or face punitive action as per drug rule.” The requirements for seeking license include trade license, bank solvency certificate, certificate of pharmacist, citizenship certificate and a nominal fee. Directorate General of drug Administration and Licensing Authority (Drugs) which was set up in 1976, is however, itself facing problems like shortage of manpower and accommodation. Asked whether the DA could give due attention to those who were in pharmacy business without license, he expressed the hope that following the recent recruitment of 54 Superintendents of Drugs it would be possible to bring the business under some sort of discipline. He however, did not rule out the possibility of existence of pharmacy without license even in the city. He said the Superintendents of Drugs would also send samples of drugs for laboratory testing. The Directorate which has an approved manpower of 370, is functioning with about 50 per cent of the approved strength, another source said. The functions of the DA include licensing of the manufacturers, import, export, distribution, promotion and advertising of medicines, the source said adding it also covers assessing the safety and quality of medicines, and issuing marketing authorization for individual products. Inspection and surveillance of manufactures, importers, wholesalers and dispensers of medicines also falls within the jurisdiction of the directorate. The DA operates two drug testing laboratories of which one is in the city while the other is in Chittagong having separate vaccine testing laboratory and drug testing laboratory. The functions of the laboratories include quality control of locally manufactured and imported drugs and testing and reporting pre-registration drug samples, the source said. Responding to a question of manufacture and marketing of fake and substandard drugs , Kibria said the leading ten companies control about 90 per cent of the drug market while the share of the leading 20 companies would be about 95 per cent. The market access of the remaining 200 small companies is very limited and confined to remote and mostly rural areas. He said the total eradication of fake and substandard medicine is not possible as it exists even in some of the developed countries. In this context, he said, ” We attach importance to conduct mobile court as it is found effective in curbing manufacture and marketing of fake and substandard drugs.” During drives by mobile courts during 2013 an amount of Tk. two crore was realized as fine from sellers and manufacturers of fake and substandard drugs, he said adding a total of 110 cases were filed against them. A total of 646 establishments and shops were found guilty and 163 persons were awarded jails of different terms.