ASSOCHAM estimates that the spurious drug market is growing at 25% annually. In fact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's latest figures say 75% of fake drugs supplied the world over have their origins in India.
The drug controller general of India, Surinder Singh plans a study Rs 50 lakh study, where drug inspectors will pose as patients and pick up 31,000 drug samples. The study has already identified 61 popular drug brands from nine therapeutic categories that will be tested.
They include anti-tuberculosis medications, anti-allergics, drugs to counter diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, anti-infective steroids, anti-malarials, NSAIDs, anti-histaminic and multi-vitamin preparations.
Govt puts figure at 5%
The health ministry’s estimates are more conservative: It says 5% of drugs in India are counterfeit while 0.3% are spurious. A counterfeit medicine is one that has no active ingredient or is an expired drug, which has been re-labelled and sold. It’s slightly different from a fake drug, which may not resemble the original in any way. Under Indian law, both counterfeit and fake drugs are described as spurious medicines.
In an attempt to tackle the menace of fake life-saving medicines, the WHO, its member countries including India and 20 international partners recently launched a massive campaign to combat the lethal counterfeit drugs industry. WHO has asked India and China to be part of an alert system, which will inform drug exporting and importing nations about counterfeit consignments, their size, location and batch numbers.