THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Little monitoring of drug stores and checking for substandard drugs takes place with drug inspectors in the state bearing the burden of being in charge of more than double their recommended quotas.The Drugs Technical Advisory Board, in its recent meeting, suggested there should be one official for every 200 sales outlets and one official for every 50 manufacturing units. With just 47 drug inspectors for over 20,000 drug stores in the state, the State Drugs Control Department finds it hard to monitor the drug market even as the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation has suggested an increase in the number of officials for efficient monitoring.
Apart from the 20,000 shops, there are also drug stores in hospitals under the purview of the department. And despite the State Drugs Control Department’s many demands for more staff for the state’s Rs 10,000-crore drug market, the authorities have not taken any steps towards increasing the manpower. Agreeing there was staff shortage in the Drugs Control Department, Health Secretary Rajeev Sadanandan said as of now creating posts is not in the ambit of the government.
In Kerala, the consumer of about 15 to 20 percent of drugs manufactured in the country, there are no quality checks taking place owing to the manpower shortage. Apparently, only less than three percent of the samples are taken from the markets to be tested in checking for substandard drugs. With more laboratories being set up in the state, the need for more enforcement officers only increases.
Though the shops have to be inspected at least once a year, a source said even this it was not possible on the present staff strength. Apart from inspections, the drug inspectors also to also collect samples, attend court proceedings and address various complaints. Confirming there was a shortage of drug inspectors, the state drugs controller in-charge Ravi S Menon said it is not easy to monitor all the shops and also the manufacturing units under the circumstances.
Medicine market crisis
Central Drugs Technical Advisory Board suggests one official for every 200 sales outlets and one official for every 50 manufacturing units.