Suresh Prabhu, NPIL to tackle spurious drugs menace
Written by Pharma Pulse   
Thursday, 25 December 2003



Suresh Prabhu, NPIL to tackle spurious drugs menace

Jayashree Padmini, New Delhi

IN ORDER to create awareness and tackle the menace of spurious drugs effectively, the government has assigned former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu who would undertake massive programme in this direction along with Harinder Sikka, senior vice-president, Nicholas Piramal India Ltd (NPIL) and chairman CII Task Force, informed sources said.

It is said that Sikka would co-ordinate with Prabhu to take the mission to a logical conclusion. NPIL intends to take a lead role in the effort and through NPIL Sikka will extend laboratory support and administrative assistance. The duo plans to meet to draft a detailed action plan.

The Cabinet decision approving capital punishment to manufacturers of spurious drugs while giving a morale boost to the fight against fake drugs, appears to remain a tool to incite fear among the mafia behind the crime rather than its implementation. This is because, so far the government has failed to use the provisions given the Drugs & Cosmetics Act and book the culprits.

Further, proving death or severe damage due to use of spurious drugs are difficult tasks and hence despite the law in place, its implementation could remain an unachievable target.

The Union Cabinet has in a meeting approved the bill to effect death penalty to manufacturers of spurious drugs. This bill will be introduced in Parliament during the ongoing winter session, Union Health Minister Sushma Swaraj said. She said that stringent punitive measures will be effected and the offence will be non-bailable and cognizable with provision for compounding offences.

The proposed modifications are based on the recommendations of the Mashelkar committee. Drugs & Cosmetics Act will be amended to incorporate the required changed to this effect. Further, for speedy disposal of cases related to spurious drugs special courts would be set up. Dr Mashelkar has in his report on Drug Regulatory System had suggested amendment in the Drugs & Cosmetics Act to bring in a provision for compounding offences and to enhance penalty upto capital punishment.

The report has suggested for authorising the police to file prosecution for offenses related to spurious drugs and told the industry to formulate its own spurious/ counterfeiting drugs policy. So far there is no authentic data on the extent of spurious/ fake drugs circulating in the distribution system. Figures available ranged from 0.5 per cent to unauthenticated 35 per cent.
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