Hang those who sell fake drugs?
Wednesday, 16 July 2003


Hang those who sell fake drugs?


Harinder S Sikka,

Senior President Nicholas Piramal

Spurious drugs are like an active detonator for the ever-growing human population bomb. Operating no less than like a mafia, its manufacturers are growing at an alarming pace and already account for over one-fourth of the pharma business. Majority of the government supplies do not have desired potency and fail quality test. Armed forces too are facing similar crises. If allowed to go unchecked, the enemy within could provide most unethical, lethal weapons of mass destruction. Basking under a failing legislature, an ailing executive and a cumbersome judiciary, spurious drug traders are freely committing the heinous crime. Apart from tarnishing India’s image, these fly-by-night operators are also constantly derailing the economy and putting a question mark on India’s export


Consequent to the African and Latin American countries’ complaints about the export of spurious drugs, the US government put India under Special 301 watch. If implemented, the Indian pharmaceutical industry could face severe repercussions. The country therefore needs to tackle the menace head on. The health minister’s bold initiative of introducing the death penalty Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament could not only give relief to patients, it also would effectively counter the international criticism.
SARS, for example, threatened the lifeline and economy of China and Hong Kong. These countries could yet come out of the quicksand and emerge stronger in a record time due to the strength of their infrastructure. India, on the other hand, neither has the political will to control the problem nor the necessary legal framework and infrastructure.

A fake drug dealer is able to walk away after killing or maiming hundreds. He is aware of his act. In fact, he plans it meticulously and shares the loot with the regulators. The system in its present form tends to turn a blind eye. It needs more teeth and an uncompromising follow up. Death penalty, even when approved by Parliament, would not be easy to enforce. But it could provide the much-needed deterrent against these cold-blooded

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