Following deaths of Uzbek children Indian biotech investigated

The Central Drugs Standards Control Organization (CDSCO) is looking into a Noida-based company after 18 children died in Uzbekistan after drinking health syrup contaminated with Diethylene Glycol (DEG).

The Indian government’s reaction to these deaths

  • It is unquestionably the importing country’s responsibility to test medicines before releasing them on their market.
  • Following notification of the incident, India’s apex regulatory body, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), launched an investigation and seized control samples.

India’s credibility at stake

  • India is a major exporter of pharmaceuticals.
  • PM Modi recently stressed that Indian drugs had earned the world’s trust and that India could be called the ‘pharmacy to the world’.
  • Such negative reports on the quality and safety of our medicines, on the other hand, will be a massive blow to the country’s image as a source of low-cost generic drugs for the rest of the world.

Issues highlighted by the incident

  • Smuggling of cheap drugs: Inquiry reveals that these were imported from an Indian manufacturer, not under public tender but privately.
  • Authorities’ ignorance: A drug that is prohibited for domestic consumption has been exported, resulting in fatalities. Indian authorities have made a huge blissful mistake.
  • Inadequate inspection: There aren’t enough drug inspectors in the country to conduct as many inspections as would be ideal in such a large setup.
  • Inadequacies in quality-control: Despite large production units, there are not enough laboratories to test samples in a timely manner if all samples that should be lifted for testing are picked up.
  • A stain on credibility: If the situation is not handled properly, many countries and the global South may lose trust in Indian medicines.

Possible factors causing this tragedy

  • Many countries are seeing an increase in the number of counterfeit Indian medicines.
  • Some of these were coming from unregistered producers in India, who would produce medicine based on the price paid to them without regard for quality.
  • Competitors from other countries were known in some cases to manufacture counterfeit medicines with Indian markings and dump them in markets where Indian pharmaceuticals were highly regarded.

Way Ahead

  • The pharmaceutical industry is critical, and it must be protected from predatory practices and regulatory violations.
  • Both sides’ regulatory mechanisms should be strengthened.
  • Importers should be provided with lists of reputable Indian manufacturers.
  • Drug controllers should be trained to combat the threat of counterfeit and low-quality medicines entering the country.
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