We are informed by the Directorate General of Drug Administration that some 153 sub-standard drugs have been detected, of which, 43 had already been marketed and awaiting registration. A survey carried out by the Administration found the spurious drugs and cases were ongoing against some 499 drug manufacturers during the January–July period. Drugs that have been banned are used for treatment of common ailments like fever, pain and also diabetes. While cases are filed, fines are imposed and parties found guilty are incarcerated, the problems associated with dispensing low quality medication remains a major headache for health authorities.
The infamous case of toxic paracetamol that resulted in the death of scores of children came to a decisive end after hanging fire for two decades. There will always be a section of manufacturers who will try to slip in drugs that do not meet the standards. The battle against such illicit activity requires greater scrutiny and continuous monitoring of markets on a nationwide scale. Given the size of the market for such drugs, it becomes all the more necessary to take proactive measures. There is also the question of imported counterfeit drugs landing up in the domestic market.
While we are sure that the drug administration directorate is doing its best to tackle the situation, we cannot but reflect on the lengthy and uphill legal battles against lawbreaking companies. Perhaps the time has come for tougher punishment and heavier penalties for errant manufacturers and dealers who choose to peddle substandard drugs.