Last week the High Court of J&K and Ladakh sought response from government and concerned agencies on a Public Interest Litigation highlighting the sale and distribution of misbranded, substandard and spurious drugs in J&K.
The petitioner, a lawyer, alleged that J&K is a victim of “fake and spurious drugs which has made it haven for the unregistered and notorious drug manufacturers.”
He claimed that “unregistered companies” are manufacturing the drugs and the distributors who are not legally entitled to distribute medicines are distributing “fake, spurious and misbranded drugs” in every nook and corner of J&K. Besides, he said, there was no system to control the menace of self-medication in J&K.
The petitioner submitted that the authorities have failed to conduct regular sampling and testing of these medicines which they are bound to do by law.
As per him, while J&K has seen a mushroom growth of pharmaceutical companies and manufacturing units, the departments concerned have failed miserably to check, regulate and stop flow of fake medicines. Referring to RTI replies, the petitioner submits that many companies operating in J&K are distributing and selling medicines without any registration, thereby making masses vulnerable and breaking laws in broad daylight.
Over the years, the issues regarding drug safety have dominated public discussion for quite some time in Jammu and Kashmir. Precisely, the discussions centered on spurious drugs having harmful side-effects and that it can even kill a person. However, of late, the issue has not hogged headlines or public discussions but it does not mean the issue has disappeared or problems associated with it have been perpetually addressed.
Under the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Act 2008, any drug is deemed to be adulterated or spurious when used by any person for or in the diagnosis, treatment, mitigation or prevention of any disease or disorder is likely to cause his death or is likely to cause such harm on his body.
A Parliamentary Committee had strongly recommended that the government take adequate measures to considerably increase the number of samples of drugs to be tested so as to instill fear in those who indulge in sale and distribution of spurious or non-standard quality drugs. The government must work seriously when it is bound by law. The doctors shall also not commit the crime of promoting drugs that can kill or harm the patient.