The country has been in turmoil since news broke that local production of paracetamol may have come to a halt due to soaring raw material prices.
Even though Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel has come out to refute the reports, there remain public concerns over the availability and, more importantly, the price of a drug considered by many to be one of the staples.
Let’s find out what it is and why there is such a problem:
What is paracetamol
Paracetamol is an analgesic. It is an analgesic antipyretic.
It is commonly used to treat fevers and relieve mild to moderate pain. It is also used to treat colds and flu.
Given its non-lethal nature and narcotic effects, it is permitted for over-the-counter sale.
Where is he from?
Like most modern drugs, paracetamol was “prepared” in the laboratory.
In 1877, Harmon Northrop Morse synthesized paracetamol at Johns Hopkins University.
He used a process called “reduction” whereby any base ingredient is heated and excess materials are allowed to evaporate, leaving a “reduced” residue.
Morse reduced p-nitrophenol with tin in glacial acetic acid in his laboratory.
It took ten years, after determining the drug’s essential ingredients, for clinical pharmacologist Joseph von Mering to try paracetamol on humans in 1887.
At the time, phenacetin was considered safer than paracetamol, and paracetamol had to take a back seat for the next sixty years.
Later, in the 1940s, it was learned that compared to phenacetin and acetanilide, acetaminophen – the active ingredient in paracetamol – was a prodrug without the side effects of the others.
What is it made of?
Paracetamol is mainly composed of acetaminophen. It is created using a process called acetylation of para-aminophenol (obtained by reduction of para-nitrophenol) with acetic acid or acetic anhydride.
Once its alcoholic version is created – acetaminophenol, its nitration gives ortho-(2-) and para-(4-) nitrophenols.
These two can be separated by distillation.
The 4-nitrophenol is then reduced to 4-aminophenol. It is then acetylated to give the final ingredient.
It is an entirely chemical product.
How it works?
Scientists believe that once paracetamol enters the body, it is metabolized into 4-aminophenol.
In this form it can bind to the fatty acid arachidonic acid forming N-arachidonoylphenolamine (AM404) – a natural cannabinoid (a group of molecules that activate specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord – its famous member is the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis).
AM404 is thought to bind to CB1 cannabinoid receptors and block them, preventing other molecules from binding and triggering pain signals.
Therefore, it effectively “turns off” pain signals.
It also binds to receptors that prevent the COX-2 enzyme from forming inflammatory compounds.
Thus giving paracetamol not only the pain relieving properties, but also the ability to reduce inflammation, as well as bring down fever.
How long does it take to work
Paracetamol is usually ingested orally and is usually available in tablet form.
Typically, it can take up to an hour for a tablet to dissolve, enter the bloodstream, and take effect.
Who can take panadol
Most people can take paracetamol. A special syrup version is made for infants but can only be given at the prescribed dosage.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women can also take paracetamol, but at prescribed doses.
However, if you have had an allergic reaction to paracetamol or any other medicine in the past, it is best to consult your doctor first.
People with liver or kidney problems have higher than average alcohol consumption, take medicine for epilepsy or tuberculosis or warfarin, and should also be careful when taking paracetamol.
Where is it made?
Even though it is a chemical, it is only manufactured in certain countries.
These include Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Poland, South Korea , Romania, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States.
Pakistan is not one of the countries where its raw materials are synthesized.
This means that he must import the raw material or the finished form before packaging it for local supply.
China and India are the main sources of raw materials for paracetamol and most other drugs.
Pakistan imported goods worth $2 billion from India.
Everything changed in 2019 when India revoked the special status of the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir illegally occupied by India (IIOJK).
But in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, Islamabad softened its stance and allowed the import of drugs and pharmaceuticals into the country.
At present, imports from India represent a volume of approximately 290 million dollars.
As a result of this paradigm shift, the country turned to China as the main source of pharmaceutical raw materials.
Since April, the rupee has been in a downward spiral, losing around 47 rupees in value, falling from 182.82 rupees in April to 229.82 rupees today.
This caused runaway inflation in all sectors, mainly contributing to a compound increase in production costs due to increased electricity costs, transportation costs and other material costs.
The major manufacturer and distributor of paracetamol in the country also cited rising costs and the government’s reluctance to allow a price increase by the Drugs Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) as the reason for halting production. .