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Updated: February 11, 2013 19:03 IST

Fake drugs: whistleblower plan draws a blank

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A medical shop closed for selling fake drugs. A file photo: K. Pichumani.
The Hindu
A medical shop closed for selling fake drugs. A file photo: K. Pichumani.

In a worrying trend, there has been an increase in cases of fake drugs in last three years and efforts by authorities to encourage whistleblowers to report such illegal activity too have failed to elicit the desired response.

Of the total of 345 cases of spurious or fake drugs reported between 2009-12 by Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), 117 were in 2009-10, 95 in 2010-11 and 133 in 2011-12, according to information provided by Health Ministry in response to an RTI query.

The CDSCO has tested about 1.37 lakh drug samples in the last three years. Of these, 6,500 samples were declared of sub-standard quality other than 345 cases of fake drugs.

The Health Ministry has launched prosecution in 516 cases against various persons for manufacturing, sale and distribution of spurious or adulterated drugs during the period.

As many as 345 persons were arrested for selling and manufacturing fake drugs, it said.

During 2009-10, a total of 39,248 drug samples were tested and 1,942 were found to be of inferior quality. The central health authorities have launched prosecution in 138 cases and arrested 173 persons during the year.

Whereas in 2010-11, about 49,682 drugs samples were tested and 2,372 of them were found to be of sub-standard quality. Authorities have launched prosecution in 167 cases in which 72 persons were arrested, the reply said.

A total of 48,082 drugs samples were tested in 2011-12, in which 2,186 were found to be below the standard. The Health Ministry authorities initiated prosecution in 211 cases in which 141 persons were arrested.

A whistle blower scheme was launched by the Ministry in August 2009 to reward any individual who gives information related to fake drugs but all the complaints were found to be false.

“There were 37 complaints received under the whistle blower scheme by this organisation. The complaints were investigated by the concerned State Drug Controlling Authorities, CDSCO and in certain cases both the authorities had jointly investigated the complaints.

“However, the complaints were found to be fictitious and no person has been awarded under this scheme till date,” the Directorate General of Health Services said in reply to the RTI query filed by PTI.

The whistle blower scheme was launched by the government to encourage vigilant public participation in the detection of movement of spurious drugs in the country.

During 2007-08, as many as 39,117 drugs samples were tested of which 2,429 were found to be of sub-standard quality. A total of 77 samples were found to be spurious during the year. The prosecution was launched in 120 cases and 122 persons were arrested, it said.

While in 2008-09, 45,145 samples were tested by the CDSCO in which 2,597 samples were of inferior quality. As many as 157 of them were found to be adulterated. The Health Ministry has launched prosecution in 220 cases in which 133 persons were arrested during the period.

“Stringent penalties for manufacture of spurious and adulterated drugs have now been provided to make it deterrent for the antisocial elements to indulge in manufacture of spurious drugs. Certain offenses have also been made cognisable and non-bailable,” the Ministry said on measures being taken by the Government to check fake drugs.

The states or Union Territories were requested to set up special courts for trial of offenses under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act for speedy disposal of cases.

“The inspectorate staff has been instructed to keep vigil and draw samples of drugs for test and analysis to monitor the quality of drugs moving in the country,” it said.

According to a 2009 report of countrywide survey for spurious, 67 cases each were reported in 2003-04 and 2007-08, 144 in 2004-05, 145 in 2005-06 and 66 in 2006-07.

Not long ago the tamil weekly Nakeeran exposed a fake drug manufacturing, distributing and relabelling of expired drugs racket in Tamilnadu. The kingpin had supplied his spurious medicines to many leading hospitals in Tamilnadu. They managed to nab the culprit, whose name I cannot remember now but what has happened to him and his henchmen? With so many new things coming up daily in India, this issue took the back bench and has probably been forgotten. Using his connections the perpetrator might have even come out of prison. Can the Hindu do something about reminding readers about fake medicines racket? And are there ways of spotting fake medicines if it is possible by the lay person?

from:  Vimal Stanley
Posted on: Feb 12, 2013 at 02:47 IST

Since fake drugs could kill an unsuspected patient. Makers of such drugs should be deemed as killers. Would you guys consider a death penalty for these sinners please ?

from:  Sabapathy K
Posted on: Feb 12, 2013 at 00:34 IST

This is such an important issue!
For an article like this it would be best to present a table with absolute numbers and proportions (%)....else the reader is besieged with a flow of disconnected numbers and no idea of the magitude of the issue at an individual level.

from:  divya
Posted on: Feb 11, 2013 at 21:52 IST

The government should give licence to qualified people but not with
elaborate rules and regulations. The conditions should be that the
products be genuine, unharmful, reasonably priced, quality on par with
international standards. Violation of this on any count should be dealt
with capital punishment within 45 days. The rights of a person is
directly proportional to his responsibilities/social obligations. Too
much of rules provide plenty of escape routes.

from:  mvrangaraajan
Posted on: Feb 11, 2013 at 21:47 IST

These are absolute blow to any development government wants to do in
healthcare. Between Patent infringements, Generic Drugs, duplicates
like these shows incapacitance of governing bodies. In addition we
have abuse of patients for foreign clinical trials.

All offense in the above that leads to loss of life / unnecessary
discomfort for patients should automatically draw severe punishment.
However what we see is our laws are being outdated and with several
loopholes enabling the law breakers to abuse.

And to implement them we need, educated, honest youngesters.

from:  sriram
Posted on: Feb 11, 2013 at 20:04 IST

In our great country most of the whistle-blowers have met with miserable
deaths, intimidation and so on. How can government solely depend on
them? Without the involvement of lot of govt. officials from top to
bottom, such an activity can not prosper. If the govt. is serious, it
has the machinery to address the issue without further delay.

from:  Rao C V C
Posted on: Feb 11, 2013 at 19:11 IST
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