The business of spurious drugs in India
GN Bureau | April 29, 2016
Indu Gilra, a retired teacher in her seventies living in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad in the national capital region (NCR), would often pop a tablet of Combiflam at the slightest hint of body ache. Since it’s an over-the-counter medicine, she could purchase it anywhere and it had always worked. One day, however, the pain refused to subside hours after taking the pill. Worried, she doubled her dose and yet the pain wouldn’t budge.
“I kept wondering if I had contracted some serious disease,” she says. She also wondered if there was something wrong with the medicine – she had bought it from a chemist’s shop which had opened recently in her middle-class neighbourhood. Maybe she should change the shop and not the medicine, she thought. Indu’s pain was gone after buying a strip of the same medicine from another pharmacist.
“I could make out that I had been popping spurious drugs all these days, but what could I do?”
Upset at being cheated she now decided to spread the word about her experience and at least expose the pharmacist before others. Her friend and neighbour Jaya Bhat, 74, was suffering from hypothyroidism – a condition in which a small gland located deep inside the neck region becomes sluggish and does not produce enough thyroxin hormone that plays a key role in working of the human body. For years, Jaya had been popping a 50 mg pill of Thyroxin in the morning to allow her body to make up for the missing hormone. However, of late, she had been feeling very uncomfortable, suffering palpitation, feeling extreme cold even in the peak of Delhi summer and her body bloating.
Fearing that her thyroid condition might have worsened, she got her blood tested. The doctor saw the report of the clinical test and told her that the gland had become even more sluggish and now she needed to double the dose to compensate for ever lower levels of thyroxin.
One day when the neighbours met during a routine walk they exchanged notes on health. Indu let out her rant against the new chemist. “I was lucky to have met Indu that day,” recalls Jaya, a homemaker, who too realised why she was continuing to suffer even after doubling her dose of medicine. She too changed her druggist and heaved a sigh of relief.
She has since returned to the 50-mg pill regime. “Only last week I got my blood tested for thyroxin and the result was normal,” she says.
The two women not only wasted money and suffered pain and anxiety but also consumed chemicals which could have major side effects on their health. Unfortunately, Indu and Jaya live in a region – NCR Delhi – which sees a Rs 300 crore substandard drugs trade each year. According to the industry body Associated Chambers of Commerce of India (ASSOCHAM), a third of the drugs sold in this region comprising the capital and the four townships around it – Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Gurgaon, with a total population of 4.6 crore – are substandard. The report is based on a survey it carried out in 2006-07.
Read full story about the business of spurious drugs in India in May 1-15, 2016 issue
IndianOil posted a net profit of Rs 19,106 crore for 2016-17 fiscal as compared to a profit of Rs 11,242 crore in the last fiscal. The income from operations for the financial year 2016-17 was Rs 4,45,373 crore as compared to Rs 4,06,828 crore in the previous fiscal. IndianOil`s income from
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) carried out first flight of light utility helicopter (LUH)-PT-2 on May 22 at its Bengaluru-based facility. The flight duration was about 22 minutes and pilots reported nil snag, HAL said. “These maiden flights of indig
Narendra Modi is like Greek mythology’s King Midas: whatever he touches turns into gold. Most people in this country are left dazzled by his ability to make dramatic announcements with a statuesque flourish. The past three years of the Modi government have left the
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has added another feather to its cap by successfully commissioning another 270 MW thermal unit at RattanIndia Nasik Power Limited’s 5x270 MW thermal power project at Sinnar (Nasik) in Maharashtra. This is the fourth unit to be c
Chaudhary Birender Singh, minister for steel, said that the Indian steel industry is at the cusp of a significant milestone by becoming the second largest stainless steel producer in the world, leaving behind Japan. He said that the steel sector is only an example of all-round development in India. The c
Are you satisfied with three years of Modi government?