The admission by the government that 83 drugs have been found to be of substandard quality and that two more drugs have been banned by the food and drug regulator is sans logic and a stupid declaration given the apathy that government in general and state health ministry in particular have shown to curbing the problem of substandard drugs. The assumption by the health minister that there is a nexus between doctors and pharmaceutical companies turn out to be a sham, as past findings point to a nexus between government officials and pharma companies. First, drugs cannot be banned for substandard quality. It is the pharmaceutical units or the traders that can be banned for breach of contract of supplying and selling products that fail quality tests. The union government banned drugs but only fixed-combination drugs, the drugs that have been found to be having either serious side effects or not the desired efficacy. Pharma units that have been selling these fixed-combination drugs – 341 listed fixed-combination drugs, have been ordered to recall and to stop their manufacture. Any approved drug that fails the quality test is said to be substandard depending on the variation in their ingredients or salts compared to the expected results. Usually, branded drugs that fail the tests are declared substandard and their withdrawal is ordered. The ban is supposed to be imposed first on the manufacturing unit that makes these low quality drugs. If after the ban, the products are still on sale, the action is taken against the traders and retailers. The root of the problem is the manufacturing firms. On this the government and particularly the health ministry needs to update itself. A sample lifted from a government store few years ago revealed that there was zero percentage of the expected salt in the drug. The government ordered immediate recall, but as the case pointed fingers at the committee responsible for purchasing drugs and medical equipment, it let the officials slip away in a “pathetic” inquiry if it can be called so. The government is responsible for providing the license to the manufacturing units as without license the pharma companies cannot manufacture and therefore sell substandard medicine. The healthy ministry has been failing for years now to verify and does proper background check of the firms, who as per popular belief are making drugs in tin-sheds outside the Valley.
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