OTHERS

`Strengthen Drugs Control Dept.'

BANGALORE, AUG. 21. K. Sreedhar Rao, judge of the Karnataka High Court, said on Saturday that inspectors of the Drugs Control Department were overstretched and often needed backup from other departments such as the police to enforce the law.

Speaking after inaugurating a workshop on "Effective implementation of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and judicial procedures" organised by the Karnataka Drugs Control Department Enforcement Officers' Association, Mr. Rao said to aid the investigation into spurious and substandard drugs, the inspectors should have access to multipurpose test equipment.

Protocol

There was a need for a protocol governing the investigation, seizure, testing, and prosecution procedures so that there could be more convictions under the Act.

"To help consumers understand their rights under the law, every druggist should display a sign detailing important provisions of the law and how an aggrieved consumer can seek redressal,'' he said.

The Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, D. Thangaraj, who presided over the function, said drugs inspectors were responsible for implementing the National Drugs Policy, 2002, which provided for quality medicines at a reasonable price.

Lack of manpower and an inadequate budget hampered the functioning of the Drugs Control Department. The Government would be persuaded to remedy this, he said.

Powers

The Secretary, Law Department, Jawad Rahim, said the powers given to drugs inspectors could be enhanced by an executive order, pending new legislation.

The laws in this regard were considered social legislation, safeguarding the interests of consumers. It was up to the enforcement officers to produce irrefutable and admissible evidence before the courts, he added.

The Director, Department of Prosecutions, R.J. Desai, said the enforcement officers needed more backing, especially in districts where they had to cover a large number of drug stores. The laws related to drug control had to be enforced with the help of other laws such as the Criminal Procedure Code, and the workshop would help them understand the procedure to be followed, he added.