KOCHI: The shortage of drug inspectors is adversely affecting the functioning of the State Drugs Control Department. According to sources, there are only 47 drug inspectors in the state who are entitled to inspect more than 21,000 medical stores functioning in the state. Apart from regular inspection of medical stores, the drug controllers have to collect samples of cosmetic products sold in the state.
They are also entitled to monitor the functioning of blood banks and keep a tab on the drug and cosmetics manufacturing sector. The shortage of drug inspectors has made the inspection of medical stores and sampling of cosmetic products a futile exercise, sources within the department said.Responding to the allegation, State Drug Controller Ravi S Menon said the department needs around 200 drug inspectors for effective regulation.
“We need one drug inspector to inspect 100 medical stores. Apart from this, he has other duties like sampling of cosmetic products. However we have only 47 drug inspectors, who are overburdened. I have written to the government to sanction the posts 100 drug controllers. The government understands the situation but a decision has been delayed due to the financial difficulties in the post-flood scenario,” he told Express. The state had established a drugs testing laboratory at Ernakulam recently at an expense of `10 crore.
Another testing laboratory will be inaugurated at Thrissur soon. The posts of 13 drug analysts have been sanctioned for the laboratories. However, with limited number of drug inspectors, the functioning of the laboratory has been affected. The Drug Controller Rank Holders Association had given a representation to the government urging to create more posts. The government has decided to fill the pending vacancies and 7 candidates are expected to join service soon. If the government sanctions 100 new posts, it will help effective regulation of the drugs sector, sources said.
Due to the shortage of drug inspectors the yearly inspection of medical stores has been affected. Sampling of cosmetic products is a herculean task as products have been flooding the market. Only a government-notified drug inspector is entitled to collect the samples and send them inspection.
The Mashelkar Committee Report in its 2003 report had said, “the problems in the regulatory system in the country were primarily due to inadequate or weak drug control infrastructure at the State and Central level, inadequate testing facilities, shortage of drug inspectors, non-uniformity of enforcement, lack of specially trained cadres for specific regulatory areas, non-existence of data bank and nonavailability of accurate information.”
The Working Group on Drugs and Food Regulation for the 12th Five Year Plan had recommended strengthening of regulatory mechanism to ensure effective monitoring and inspection of the medicine sold in the country.“Strengthening of Drugs Regulatory Mechanisms is one of the major public health interventions. This ensures that safe, efficacious and quality drugs are made available to the people. Keeping in view the recommendations of the Mashelkar Committee, it is important that the infrastructure, both physical and human resource, both at the Centre as well as in the States is substantially augmented.”