BHUBANESWAR: With the fake drug bust in Odisha having roots in far-off Rajasthan raising concerns over endangering patients’ lives, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has stepped in and sought an action taken report from the Union Health Ministry and 13 States.
Widespread circulation of fake drugs in the country had come to light in Odisha in November, when State Drugs Control Administration stumbled upon a line of medicines from alkalisers, antihistamines to antibiotics supplied by a fictitious company based in Rajasthan. Tests on the samples of the drugs revealed they were of substandard quality.
The company had supplied the drugs not only to Odisha but also other states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
Acting on a complaint filed by Odisha-based rights activist Akhand, the Commission has directed the Secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and Health Secretaries of the States concerned, including Rajasthan, to file action taken reports within four weeks. The apex panel has also ordered Commissioner of Police of Jaipur to file his report on the matter within the stipulated time.
The fake company Abhaya Healthcare had shown registration in Himachal Pradesh but it was found to be non-existent in the records of the State. After the Drugs Control administration officials smelled foul in the drugs supplied and went after it, the whole racket was unearthed.
The probe led the officials to manufacturer Avdesh Sharma of Jaipur, who had allegedly been manufacturing spurious drugs under fake company names and supplying them across the country. More than `52 lakh of medicines and machines were reportedly seized from the basement of his house in Jaipur, which he had been using as his factory.
According to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, such an act is a punishable offence and shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to a term of life and with fine which shall not be less than `10,000. “But governments of States concerned are doing almost nothing in the matter”, alleged Akhand.
He sought intervention of NHRC and prayed for stringent criminal action against the company owner and other officials complicit in the matter.