HYDERABAD: The country’s pharma industry might be the third largest in the world in terms of volume and 14 in terms of value but Indian medicines carry the “sub-standard” tag in the international market.
“The perception has gained ground due to poor manufacturing practices but it is not true,” asserted Bejon Mishra, founder, Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) India. Similarly, the percentage of spurious drugs or substandard drugs in the state is only two per cent contrary to some reports of their widespread penetration, pointed out K Subbi Reddy, regional director, Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council.
They were speaking at a National Consultation on consumers’ right to safe and quality healthcare organised by PSM here on Thursday. The event also marked the silver jubilee celebrations of the Consumer Protection Law in India and it also saw the launch of a national campaign against spurious medicines in the supply chain.
Minister for Consumer Affairs D Sridhar Babu, who inaugurated the programme, stressed on the need for ensuring easy accessibility of good quality medicines to the poor at affordable prices. Most of the speakers, however, focused on the brighter side and suggested measures to effectively end the supply of spurious drugs.
“The percentage of substandard drugs is only 2 per cent in the state when compared to 11 per cent in the country over the last 5 years...and the percentage of spurious drugs in the market amounts to only 0.2 per cent in the state compared to the national average of 0.4 per cent over the last 5 years,” explained Subbi Reddy, pointing out that the state was a leader in the export of ‘bulk drugs’ in South East Asia.
Dr Praful Naik, chief scientific officer, Bilcare technologies Ltd, called for the usage of ‘track and trace technology’ to counter supply of spurious drugs.
The Pune-based company claims to have invented a solution for prevention of duplication using a unique ID which even the inventor cannot duplicate.
According to Dr Naik, the technology is being used in defence and other high-security sectors and can be made available for pharmaceutical sector as well without any added cost.
According to B Vaidyanathan, chief mentor, Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela, “Indian health infrastructure matched only the sub-Saharan countries.
Only 11 per cent of Indians are covered under Health Insurance and 25 per cent have access to quality healthcare.” Concluding the consultation program, Bejon Mishra said the government should mandate the use of technologies to overcome the problem of spurious drugs.
He further added, “The government needs to come up with a portal which identifies low-cost generic replacements for the costly branded medicines.” He also urged consumers to make use of The PSM India toll free helpline 1800-11-4424, to bring cases of spurious drugs or overcharging of drugs to the notice of the authorities.