50 new posts sanctioned in November 2013
The State Drugs Control Department will have to manage with minimal staff at least till the Lok Sabha elections are over.
Although the State government sanctioned 50 new posts of drug inspector against the required 100 in November 2013, the recruitment process slowed down after the provisions of Article 371(J) of the Constitution, according special status to the Hyderabad Karnataka region, came into effect. Now, the elections are likely to cause further delay.
State Drugs Controller Raghuram Bhandary told The Hindu that 75 per cent of drug inspectors required for the Hyderabad Karnataka region have been reserved for local people. “According to the Karnataka Public Employment (Reservation in Appointment for Hyderabad Karnataka Region) Order 2013, which provides for the creation of a local cadre and reservation in the region, we had to identify the required number of posts in that region. We have completed that process and submitted the data to the government,” Dr. Bhandary said.
The shortage of drug inspectors has hit drug testing and monitoring operations. For a total of 28,000 medical stores (wholesale and retail), 248 drug manufacturing units, 179 blood banks, 149 blood storage units and 18 approved drugs testing labs in the State, the department has only 49 drugs inspectors. The problem will worsen further in the next two months as 21 of these 49 drugs inspectors are due for promotion as Assistant Drug Inspector.
Dr. Bhandary said the department required at least 163 drug inspectors. “Although 112 posts have been sanctioned, we have only 49. Even if these 112 posts are filled, we need at least 50 more. The recruitment has to be done through the Karnataka Public Service Commission,” he said.
The government had sanctioned 20 new posts in 2008 and the recruitment was done in 2011. Subsequently, 11 posts fell vacant after some inspectors got promoted. “The process of recruiting for these 11 posts has begun, and we have learnt that interviews will be called shortly.”
He said, “We are finding it difficult to effectively enforce the Drugs and Cosmetics Act because of the staff crunch. The 49 drug inspectors have to collect drug samples from across the State for tests and analysis. We are managing somehow and have asked each drug inspector to compulsorily collect 15 samples a month,” he said.
The department has 545 cases pending in several courts across the State. “We can follow up these cases if we have the required number of inspectors,” he said.
Despite the staff crunch, the department had been conducting regular raids and audits of pharmacies, he said. “We recently got a person involved in the sale of medicines arrested as he was doing business without a licence in Bidar. Two weeks ago, we booked similar cases in Tumkur and Mandya,” he said.