Fake Drugs: Industry Feels Menace Won?t Die With Death For Offenders
Written by The Finance Express   
Thursday, 14 August 2003


Fake Drugs: Industry Feels Menace Won’t Die With Death

For Offenders



NEW DELHI, AUG 13:  The Mashelkar Committee may have recommended death penalty as a deterrent for those dealing in spurious medicines. But is the greater need of the hour more effective measures to detect and convict offenders?


The committee headed by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research director-general Dr RA Mashelkar submitted its interim report on drug regulatory issues to Union health minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday.

While appreciating the report’s recommendations, industry has pointed out a few issues that need to be addressed before the final report is submitted by October 27.

Nicholas Piramal senior president and convenor of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) taskforce on spurious drugs Harinder Sikka told FE, “The report mentions that offences relating to spurious medicines be treated like those for narcotics. What would really help are special courts with powers to handle such cases.”

The biggest concern of the industry continues to be the process of identifying offenders and legal action leading to conviction. The proposed Central Drug Authority and strengthening of field force and laboratories could take years to function effectively, believe some of the industry representatives expressing pessimism in this regard.

“Only having a law is not enough. We need an effective machinery for enforcement. Prevention is the best policy. What we also need are more stringent policies for granting licences to drug manufacturers,” Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance secretary-general DG Shah told FE.

It is believed that a large percentage of the estimated 20,000 licenced pharma manufacturers in the country do not have actual production facilities.

“The fact that police can detain any offenders for at least three months without bail, and fines of three times the value of illegal stock recovered are strong deterrents too. At the same time, with only seven laboratories, how are we to carry out sufficient tests to distinguish fakes from genuine products,” said Mr Sikka.

Industry has been planning to introduce special difficult-to-imitate packaging and markings to distinguish fakes from genuine material. But these come at an additional cost. At present, the National Pharm-aceutical Pricing Authority does not have the flexibility to pass on these extra costs to customers for drugs under price control. This issue has not been addressed in the interim report. Drug Controller General of India Ashwini Kumar told FE that this would be taken care of in the final submission.
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