India is second largest distributor of over-the-counter medicines to the United States. It has delivered only high quality drugs which gained the trust of both developing and developed countries in the world.
However, the country is currently under scrutiny for the growing cases of counterfeit medicines being traced back to India’s list of legitimate pharmacies. American regulators claim their safety lapses, falsified drug results and selling of fake medicines.
World Health Organization (WHO) has already stepped in. The international non-profit organization estimates 1 out of 5 drugs made in India are fakes. Moreover, bogus pharmacies are also expected to currently be a $75 billion industry. China gets 65% of these income followed by India (28%) and Indonesia (7%). Fortunately for the latter, the government is already implementing capital punishment for fraudsters found to be involved in any illegal drug operations. In Jakarta alone, hundreds of boxes of Viagra and Cialis were confiscated in the first half of the year.
Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has also conducted series of raids in India to uncover counterfeit medicines. The raids yielded thousands of illegal medicines and resulted to dozens of arrest. However, the government of India has implemented a rather loose penalty for those who are selling and making counterfeit medicines. The convictions are also rare, with the vigor to complete the operation only shown at the first few weeks of implementation and slowly withering until halted. The profits for the fraudsters are also huge. And with the raids only starting at the end of the year, the problem has only gotten worse.
According to the statistics released by the International Business Studies, 12-25 percent of India’s medicines within the country are counterfeited or substandard. The percentage, although without definite statistics to back up the information, is known to be larger when exported to the other countries across the world. Furthermore, In India ‘Bhagirath palace’ Chandni Chowk, New Delhi is said to be the hub for counterfeit and spurious drugs in India. Fake drugs form 20% of the 40,000 crore Pharma market in India. What was once confined to exotic and costly pills like Viagra has now proliferated to cough syrups, vitamin supplements and painkillers.
FDA and WHO are already teaming up to eliminate wayward violators and more importantly elevate the industry’s illegal practices. Combating counterfeit or falsified medicines requires collaboration at national, regional and international levels. Health professionals in particular have a crucial role to play in alerting patients to counterfeit medicines and detecting their presence.