Representatives of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Tamil Nadu and Retail Medical Shop Owners Association in the city deny manufacturing or stocking and selling expired or spurious drugs.
Shop-owners say they are required to return the medicines three months before the date of expiry to the stockists, who, in turn, send them to the manufacturers for destruction.
Fast moving drugs
“Each of us buys only a few strips of tablets and less than 100 bottles/vials of fast-moving drugs such as cough syrup as we do not have the money to stock large amounts of such medicines,” explained R. Manjini, president of Retail Medical Shop Owners Association.
The organisation has about 1,200 members.
“It is impossible for anyone to collect expired drugs from across the 4,000 medical shops in the city at the same time without our knowledge as we buy according to our requirements only,” he said.
“We do not have to worry about disposal or sale of expired drugs as the manufacturer will reimburse the entire amount for the expired drugs,” said N. Balaraja, Association secretary.
These representatives say it is mandatory for pharmaceutical companies to certify that the drugs are destroyed under the supervision of a competent authority.
Liquids are diluted in water and sent through effluent treatment plants (ETP) before disposal. Tablets are crushed and dissolved in ETP, industry sources say.
B. Sethuraman, president of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Tamil Nadu, confirmed this. “Distributors must return the expired drugs to the manufacturer using a credit note.
There is a lot of paperwork involved. The shop owners are refunded the entire amount for the expired drugs. We destroy the expired drugs in our factory using proper safe disposal methods,” he said.
The State Drug Control Authority requires every pharmacy to have a qualified pharmacist either as a partner or worker. Pharmacies/medical shops are expected to display their licence in the shop.
Shop-owners must also fulfil other conditions (such as storing drugs in the required temperature) for them to be able to renew their licence.