Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Feb 23, 2002
Industry & Economy - Pharmaceuticals
Watch out when you buy that Crocin!
P.T. Jyothi Datta
NEW DELHI, Feb. 22
FOR those consumers buying their regular medicines, without batting an eyelid - here is an eye-opener - one can get hoodwinked into buying a spurious drug, "even as you pick up a drug as trusted as a Crocin!"
Disturbing but true is the fact that all dosage forms, across the therapeutic ranges stand affected by the loop of spurious manufacturers and according to Mr D.G. Shah, Secretary-General, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA), counterfeits bleed the pharma industry of about Rs 4,000 crore, or 20 per cent of the industry's total sales.
"Even a Crocin is duplicated. Any segment with a popular drug stands the threat of finding counterfeits," he observed.
This is the first time that the pharma industry is putting a figure, albeit a conservative estimate, to the loss it runs up as a result of the spurious trade. According to Prof Manubhai Shah, Managing Trustee of Consumer Education and Research Centre, said that a nationwide study had revealed that even intravenous (IV) fluids were contaminated.
The concerted war against counterfeiting, started by a clutch of FMCG companies under the aegis of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, has only recently spread its tentacles into other segments, such as pharma.
The spurious shadow is cast across a range of products, in categories as varied as painkillers, cough and cold remedies, vitamins, anti-infectives and cardiovasculars, to mention a few. It does not spare the dosage form, whether the drug is a tablet, capsule, liquid, ointment or injectible, Mr Shah said.
He told Business Line that while enforcement needs to be beefed-up, in that the Drug-Controller's office needs to get cracking, it would also befit consumers to be vigilant. "One method to be safe is by purchasing drugs from your trusted neighbourhood chemist. IPA has also requested the trade to buy only from authorised companies.''
But with the trade being all about margins, it appears that only wielding the stick by law enforcers and surprise checks by the companies can check the spawning of spurious trade, he added.
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