Substandard drugs very low in State, says Health Minister
‘Govt. improving testing facilities, human resource to ensure only quality drugs reach market’
Only a minuscule proportion of the drugs tested in the laboratories in the State has been found to be substandard, Health Minister Veena George has said.
This has been corroborated by the nation-wide survey (2014-16) on the extent of Problems of ‘Spurious and Not of Standard Quality Drugs’ done by the National Institute of Biologicals (NIB), which reported that the proportion of substandard drugs was quite low in Kerala and that spurious drugs were not found in the State, she said. Ms. George was replying to a calling attention motion raised by Anoop Jacob, on the need to control the sale of substandard drugs in the State and to ensure that only quality drugs were available in the open market, in the Assembly on Tuesday.
Mr. Jacob said that laboratory infrastructure and human resource capacity in the State was totally inadequate to control the drugs market where over two lakh batches of medicines were being sold every month. He also pointed out that even when the vigilance wing of the Drugs Control Department seized substandard drugs, no follow-up action was taken to bring the offenders to book. He said that the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1945 needed to be amended to suit the times and that the State should pressurise the Centre on this.
Ms. George said that there were three statutory drug quality testing laboratories in the State at present. While about 2.5 lakh batches of drugs were being sold in the State every month, through the accepted method of random sampling, 1,155 drugs were being tested every month, utilising the existing capacity.
Given that Kerala was a small State, the lab strength was found to be sufficient and the State was much ahead of the rest of India when it came to drug quality monitoring. However, when the drugs testing lab in Konni and Thrissur became fully functional, the State would be able to test up to 2,000 drugs every month. The Government was in the process of improving its drugs testing infrastructure as well as human resource capacity to ensure that only quality drugs entered the market.
Ms. George added that the committee appointed by the Centre for proposing amendments to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act is expected to come out with the draft amendments in November. Kerala has already submitted its recommendations to the committee, she said.