The state drug control authority has proposed to reduce the waiting time for test results of samples.

The results are generally released only after 45 days of receiving a sample. The authority has planned to bring down the waiting time to less than a month.

It is necessary to make test results available as quickly as possible to avoid anxieties in patients, said N. Anandan, president of Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association.

One of the jobs of drug inspectors attached to the Drugs Control Administration (DCA) is to pick up samples for testing. When there were complaints about contamination of mehendi powder during Eid in August last year, the drug inspectors picked up random samples and tested them.

At that time, hundreds of people across the State complained of allergic reactions after using the powder to colour their hands ahead of the festival. “When the problem arose, we picked up samples from ‘fancy stores’ where mehendi is sold as a cosmetic product. We found small defects which were later rectified by the manufacturer,” said G. Selvaraju, director of drugs control.

In last year’s budget, the State Government allotted the authority Rs. 14 crore to upgrade facilities. The authority has placed orders with the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Commission for new machines and equipment required for a specialised laboratory. The authority has also received manpower.

From 46 drug inspectors, it now has 135. “Each inspector picks up seven samples which means we have close to 800 samples to test at any given time,” Mr. Selvaraju said.

Drug inspectors lift samples of medicines from pharmacies and cosmetics from ‘fancy stores,’ he said. The drug inspectors use three methods to pick up samples: random selection, collection based on specific complaints and scientific sampling process.

The authority is now in the process of getting its testing laboratory accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).

Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat. boast of good laboratories.

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