96% of the prosecution leads to conviction, say experts
In the past three years, the Tamil Nadu drug control authority has prosecuted 840 persons for violating the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Since 2011, the number of prosecution each year has been increasing steadily. However, experts say the number is small considering the mushrooming medical shops.
The violations are mostly selling drugs without receipt/prescription, not possessing valid sales licence or not having a full-time pharmacist.
In 2011-12, a total of 4,074 samples were drawn leading to 270 prosecutions. The sample size rose to over 6,000 the next year and the prosecution stood at 301.
In 2013-14 (till February), the drug control authority lifted 6,607 samples and the number of prosecution stood at 302.
Director of Drugs Control Abdul Khader attributes the rise in samples to increase in manpower but says the low level of prosecution is due to late induction of new inspectors. “We now have 136 drug inspectors and each person is responsible for inspecting 200 to 300 licences depending upon the jurisdiction. Each inspector takes 50 samples a month from medical shops, grocery shops and pharmacies attached to hospitals, clinics and government medical stores. We see a lot of minor defects and less than half of the violations are defects in manufacture of drugs,” an official says.
Though 96 per cent of the prosecutions lead to conviction, experts say the number is low, considering the number of pharmacies in the State. “It is a good sign that more samples are picked up but there should also be a corresponding increase in the number of conviction,” a former drug controller says.
Another expert says the scope for prosecution will increase if sample size is increased.
“The number of samples taken is high but it is difficult to accept that there can be so few violations,” he says.