Officials of the Kerala State Drugs Control Department have collected samples of the tablets for blood pressure and diabetes being distributed in government hospitals and health centres after reports emerged that some of them were found to be in powder form.
The medicines in question are Losartan (25 mg and 50 mg), used to treat high blood pressure, and Metformin (500 mg) for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.
Both of them are manufactured by two major private pharmaceutical companies based in western India and are being distributed by the Kerala State Medical Services Corporation.
It has been alleged that both these pharmaceutical companies are linked to the family of a senior politician in the State. Sources in the Drugs Control department confirmed that samples had been collected from different districts between the last week of November and first week of December.
They, however, refused to comment on the quality of the tablets saying it would be determined only after detailed laboratory tests and claimed that such tests were quite routine.
Senior Health department officials, who do not wish to be quoted, refuted this claim saying that patients, many of them from below the poverty line families, had been complaining about the quality of the medicines.
The department is running non-communicable diseases control clinics on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at primary health centres, community health centres, and other government hospitals.
Those diagnosed with blood pressure and diabetes are prescribed Losartan and Metformin tablets, which are distributed through government pharmacies for free. The substandard tablets were coming in the way of the treatment, they added.
The officials accused the Drugs Control officials of deliberately delaying the results of the tests.
They claimed that once the samples were sent to the laboratory, it took at least six to seven months for the final results to come.
By then, the entire stock of medicines belonging to the batch would have been distributed among patients and a negative or positive result would not serve any purpose.