Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fake Drugs are a Real Menace

Quality and safety concerns hurt India’s pharmaceutical promise. A new report studies the extent of such worries.

Nick Schulz, Editor of and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute writes an interesting piece which was posted June 3rd on regarding the Indian Pharmaceutical industry and its largest obstacle in its rise to become a true pharmaceutical power-“concern over the quality and safety of its pharmaceutical supply chain.”

Mr. Schulz states, “if India can overcome these concerns—something a report published on 18 May indicates is possible—the sky is the limit for Indian firms to push the technological frontier in this critical industry.”

Some of the highlights from Mr. Schulz:

· Concerns about fake and substandard drugs have led to multiple actions by governments around the world to hinder trade in Indian medicines. In 2008, the European Union detained Indian drugs citing concerns over counterfeiting and fakes. Governments from Sri Lanka to Nigeria have also blocked some Indian drugs from entering the market. Drug industry officials from Japan to the US have also fingered fakes as a chief obstacle to a more robust Indian drug industry.

· The Indian government has pushed back against this common perception, releasing a report late last year claiming that the vast majority of drugs produced in India were of high quality. But that government-sponsored report was likely far too optimistic. Its underlying data and methodology have not been made available to the public, and its findings flew in the face of anecdotal and other evidence that India’s problem with quality is genuine.

The article also reports on a recent study co-sponsored by the London-based Legatum Institute and the New Delhi-based Liberty Institute, A Safe Medicines Chest for the World: Preventing Substandard Products from Tainting India’s Pharmaceuticals.

· In Delhi, 80% of the sampled pharmacies were providing at least some substandard medicines (ranging from drugs with zero-active ingredient to those with chalk or talcum powder substituting for active ingredient). In Chennai, almost 40% of the surveyed pharmacies were found to have sold some below-standard products.

· Meanwhile, 7% of the samples from wholesale traders that the researchers investigated were found to be of poor quality. This is encouraging, in that it is a small enough percentage that one can imagine a concerted effort tackling this problem. But since wholesalers sell across the market, it means just a few bad actors can have widespread impact.

· Almost three quarters of the pharmacists surveyed admitted there was a problem with substandard medicines and said they knew of pharmacists who were complicit in the sale of substandard drugs. Perhaps most worrisome, over 90% of respondents said they had been approached by a wholesale trader offering to sell them substandard pharmaceuticals at a discount. Most of the pharmacists claimed that government corruption and bribery were problems in maintaining high standards. And almost 25% of the pharmacists reported that government officials had demanded bribes of them.

Mr. Schulz explores some of the necessary measures that the Indian Government and the Indian Pharmaceutical Industry need to do to improve their quality, protect the pharmaceutical supply chain, improve their commercial reputation and protect consumer’s world wide.

Secure Pharma Chain Blog encourages all members of the pharmaceutical supply chain world wide to protect themselves from fraudulent, adulterated and counterfeit medications by deploying solutions that authenticate and verify the inventories.

To learn more about pharmaceutical supply chain solutions, visit:

To view the report on, visit:

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