NHRC seeks report on sale of drugs with identical names for different ailments 

It issues notices to Health Ministry and Drugs Controller General of India after a newspaper article flagged the issue

Updated - February 19, 2024 11:22 am IST

Published - February 15, 2024 10:28 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken suo motu cognisance of a newspaper article, which said that a large number of drugs is being sold in India with identical brand names for treating entirely different conditions.

In its release earlier this week, it stated that the consequences of confusion between these medications at the pharmacy can be serious for patients as these drugs are being prescribed by the doctors for treatment of different diseases. The NHRC noted that the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) would first have to build a database of all pharmaceutical brand names by collecting data from the 36 different Drug Controllers in each State and Union Territory as there is no such database in the country. Also, no data on prescription errors is being maintained by the authorities.

The commission has observed that the contents of the article, if true, “amount to a serious issue of human rights”. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Secretary, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as well as the Drugs Controller General of India, calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. 

Cites examples

The release further gives examples of many such drugs with identical names but prescribed for different ailments. A drug by the name ‘Linamac 5’ is used to treat multiple myeloma, a type of cancer, while another drug named ‘Linamac’ is used to treat diabetes. Another medicine being sold under the brand name ‘Medzole’, is used by four different companies to sell four different active ingredients, treating entirely different medical conditions. The first company uses ‘Medzol’ to sell a drug containing ‘Midazolam’, which is used as a sedative. The second company uses the name ‘Medzole-DSR’ to sell a combination of domperidone and pantoprazole, which is used to treat stomach acidity. A third company uses the name ‘Medzole 400’ for a formulation containing albendazole that is used in deworming treatment for children. A fourth company uses ‘Medzole 200’ for a formulation containing Itraconazole, which is a powerful antifungal drug used to treat diseases such as black fungus.

“Not only this, another serious problem has been identified relating to the use of identical or similar names to sell different active ingredients as contraceptives by the same company itself,” the NHRC added.

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