Spurious medicines  

Published: July 16, 2018 22:10:17 | Updated: July 18, 2018 22:03:57

The seizure of spurious and contraband medicines from two separate individuals at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in separate drives on the same day (Friday) is an indication of illegal production, marketing and over-the-counter sale of such drugs. The spurious drug seized is a copy of the genuine type produced by a well-known local drug company. Used for chemotherapy in cancer treatment, the real version is quite pricey. The manufacture and supply line of look-alike fake version should give patients, physicians and the government a nightmarish time. Treatment of cancer is highly costly. Early diagnosis and routine chemotherapy can save a cancer patient. But if such spurious medicine is used for chemotherapy, a patient stands no chance of recovery. Now how to detect such spurious varieties of medicines? Only experts in the line can do the job. Paramedics administering chemotherapy may not be able to discern the fake from the genuine. How dangerous it may prove to patients!

With the murky history of paracetamol produced by a dubious pharmaceutical company behind, this country should have shown zero tolerance to production of spurious medicines. Production is important here, marketing is a follow-up. If the source can be eradicated, there is no question of the existence of a supply line. So the drug authority and the intelligence branches must join hands together to find out the production units of such fake medicines. Mass production of such copied versions of drugs is impossible to hide if the authorities take the matter seriously. Usually, the illegal manufacturers target rural pharmacies for disposal of their dangerous cargoes. There such medicines run little risk of coming under probing eyes. This violates business ethics and compromises people's healthcare - a basic human right.       

The pharmaceutical industry in the country is doing roaring business now. A number of the companies are exporting medicines to as many as 145 countries, including the United States of America. This shows that the companies are producing quality drugs. But then the industry is yet to go for production of some medicines which the country has to import. It leaves room for import of contraband medicines. This can be effectively plugged by producing such medicines locally. When the industry's business is on a higher trajectory, some dishonest traders are taking advantage of the industry's reputation by manufacturing sub-standard or even fake medicines. There has to be an all-out effort not to give these enemies of the people any scope and space to be in business.

In this context, it would not be irrelevant to draw attention of the drug manufacturers and the drug administration or the government to the unrelenting price hike of almost every type of medicine. In order to effect price increase, the drug companies even resort to manipulative means. Sometimes they create artificial crisis of certain medicine and then suddenly the next batch of medicine bears a higher price tag. At other times, they lobby for banning imported variety, arguing that they can meet the local need. But when the foreign medicine is banned, they show their true colours. Within months their medicines surpass the price level of the imported varieties and the process has no end. In drug business reasonable profit is all the more necessary because the nation's healthcare is largely dependent on people's - particularly of the poor among them - affordability of medicines. 

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