Pumping poison

Harmful medicines being sold openly in Karkhano Market

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 By Muhammad Shahid

PESHAWAR: The Karkhano Market is famous for selling medicines containing steroids and most people buy them for sexual potency or physical strength.

“There are around 35 shops and stalls selling these medicines,” said Sher Umar, a shopkeeper at the market. Asked about the price of a packet labled ‘Happy Life’, he said, “These tablets are sold for Rs 250 per packet and are very helpful in improving sex.” All such medicines are brought from India to Afghanistan, and later transported to the Karkhano Market, he added.

However, various sections of society had mixed reactions towards the use of medicines containing steroids. University of Peshawar Pharmacy Department Chairman Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal told Daily Times that steroids also existed in the human body but that medicines containing steroids were harmful to human health. “Anabolic steroids are the most dangerous types and are mostly used by body-builders,” he added. He stressed the need to implement the legal ban on such medicines without a doctor’s prescription. “There are laws for drugs and pharmacies but none for herbal medicines,” he added.

According to a website , “While anabolic steroids can enhance certain types of performance or appearance, they are dangerous drugs, and their inappropriate use can cause a host of adverse health consequences. Anabolic steroids can lead to early heart attacks, strokes, liver tumours, kidney failure, and serious psychiatric problems. Moreover, users who share needles or use non-sterile techniques for injecting steroids are at a risk of contracting dangerous infections, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C.”

“I used steroids to prepare myself for a body building competition and though I become very strong physically, I become depressed and anxious after a few months,” said Zabihullah.

Sultan Gym’s couch Alam Khan said that he did not advise his clients to use steroids for competitions, but he sometimes guided them about some medicines that were harmless and had no steroids.

Zaman, a body builder from Peshawar, said that steroids could not harm a person, provided its user took a balanced diet.

Health Department Drug Inspector Wilayat Khan told Daily Times there were around 8,000 medical stores and matibs (herbal pharmacies) in the province and 2,200 in Peshawar. “Had former capital city police officer (CCPO) Malik Saad not been killed, we would have finished all illegal stalls in the Karkhano Market,” said Wilayat, adding that the drug inspectors needed government vehicles and security to carry out an operation against all those selling harmful medicines in the market.

“During the 2003-06 period, we registered 1,005 cases against unlicensed drugstores and hakeems, and the Peshawar Drug Court decided 808 of those cases,” said the drug inspector, adding that the Health Department had collected Rs 6,014,000 in fines during that period.

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