Telangana fighting surge in spurious drug trade; doctors sound alarm

Since December 2023, the DCA has targeted 10 facilities, resulting in the confiscation of nearly 1,171 kg of counterfeit medications worth ₹9.76 crore.

Updated - January 15, 2024 02:59 pm IST

Published - January 15, 2024 12:51 am IST - HYDERABAD

Authorities have confiscated 1,171 kg of counterfeit medications worth ₹9.76 crore across Telangana

Authorities have confiscated 1,171 kg of counterfeit medications worth ₹9.76 crore across Telangana | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Enforcement agencies across Telangana have uncovered the business of spurious drugs, in recent raids conducted by the Drugs Control Administration (DCA).

Since last month, the DCA has targeted 10 facilities, resulting in the confiscation of nearly 1,171 kg of counterfeit medications worth ₹9.76 crore. Notwithstanding these efforts, medical experts warn that the consumption of such illicit drugs poses severe threat to health.

Spurious drugs, also known as counterfeit drugs, are deceitfully manufactured medicines designed to mimic reputable products, often from well-known brands, with the intention of misleading the public and capitalising on the popularity of authentic items. These fraudulent medications may even bear the details of non-existent manufacturers, creating a facade of legitimacy for fictitious companies.

Not only do spurious drugs fail to address the intended medical conditions, but they can also lead to disastrous consequences for patients over a period of time.

Expanding market

Kiran Madala, Scientific Committee convenor of Indian Medical Association-Telangana State, highlights the potential impact on trust in medicines, healthcare providers, and health systems. He notes the expanding market for lookalike drugs, which may appear genuine until closely examined, revealing poor standards that can harm one’s health upon inspection.

“The prolonged consumption of such counterfeit drugs can have serious implications for vital organs like the kidneys and liver, potentially leading to fatal outcomes due to impurities present in illicit substances. While substandard medicines may not have an immediate negative impact, the unpredictable nature of fake drugs, where consumers are unaware of the actual content, poses a significant health risk,” explains Dr.Madala.

Drug approval

Addressing concerns around drug monitoring standards, another medical professional points out a critical loophole in the system. The preparation of a new drug involves approval from the Central government, but the process becomes vulnerable at the State level.

State drug control bodies are often understaffed and lack a robust monitoring system, providing an entry point for companies to introduce spurious drugs into the market without proper scrutiny.

The recent raids by DCA officials in December as well as this month have unveiled a disturbing trend, with fake medicines falsely labelled under the names of reputable companies such as Sun Pharma, Glenmark Pharma, Aristo Pharmaceuticals, and Torrent Pharma.

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