WHO-sponsored study showed that only 0.3% of samples were found spurious in lab tests, though over 3.1% were found to be counterfeits during visual inspections.

The study, held by SEARPharm Forum (South East Asian FIP-WHO Forum of Pharmaceutical Association) some time back in collaboration with Delhi Pharmaceutical Trust, reported that the anti-infective category and those drugs priced below Rs 20 were most prone to counterfeiting.

The health ministry has planned a comprehensive study covering 6 lakh samples in three months. The government has been quoting the findings of SEARPharm study so far.

During visual inspection, the extent of counterfeit suspects was to the tune of 3.1 per cent. This was assumed due to striking registration differences in the packing. Based on the domestic sales of Rs. 31,500 crore (7 billion USD) in 2006, the extent of suspected counterfeit medicines would be extrapolated to approximately to Rs. 1000 crore (USD 250 million). These figures are considerably lower than Rs. 4000 crore (USD 1000 million) in earlier reports.

The analysis of suspected samples showed that even from the states perceived to be strongly regulated, the percentage of counterfeit suspects is almost same as weakly regulated.

In terms of cost ranges, the extent of relative prevalence of counterfeit suspects were below Rs. 20 was 5.2% while in the Rs. 20-50 range, it was 2.2%. In the Rs. 51-100 segment, it was 1.4 per cent. Only 1.7% of drugs priced above were found to be counterfeit, contrary to the general belief.

The data showed the Bihar has the highest probability of spurious suspects, with 5.65% of samples turning spurious. On a region basis, Central region had more counterfeit suspects. The extent of prevalence was 4.21% while the West had 4%, East 3.2%, North 3% and South with 2.8%.

About 10743 samples were collected from 38 locations in five regions and inspected and 2455 samples were sent for testing to NABL laboratory. Only eight of them failed in the tests.