Twelve per cent of the drugs purchased from pharmacies in the Capital were found to be sub-standard, according to a recent snap-shot study conducted by non-government organisation International Policy Network along with Liberty Institute, Delhi, with support from Legatum Institute.

It was also found that spurious drugs were being deliberately traded. Some drugs collected for the study from traders were found to contain no active ingredients whatsoever, while other spurious drugs contained chalk or talcum powder mixed with a pain reliever to trick and defraud the patients. As high as 92 per cent of pharmacists said they have been offered sub-standard or spurious drugs for cheaper prices.

Author of the report Barun Mitra said: ``Indians must have access to safe and secure medicines and Indian companies must be able to protect their brands from counterfeiters at home and abroad. Sadly, a significant minority of culprits are harming patients, and denting the reputation of India’s thriving pharmaceuticals industry. In spite of such findings there is still some hope left. In the report we have also pointed out that most Indian drugs pass the quality tests, and most pharmacists and wholesalers are operating honest, high quality facilities.’’

The report, which looked at drugs being sold in Delhi and Chennai, also noted that that trademark protection in India must be improved to thwart counterfeiting. It says that adding more regulation often fails to help because of corruption among officers. As part of the study three quality tests were done on the drugs.

Author Julian Harris added: “Some cases pertaining to sale of sub-standard drugs stay in the courts for years so the culprits get away with it. Justice delayed is justice denied. There’s no point in adding more rules and regulations if existing laws are not enforced. Indian authorities and industry groups should not oppose the World Health Organisation’s efforts against counterfeit drugs, but should collaborate to destroy this global threat.’’

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