Are the pills you consume safe and effective? There is no way to find out. The city’s drug regulatory body does not have enough officers to conduct regular inspections of all the manufacturing units, wholesale markets and neighbourhood chemist shops in Delhi.
“Before we give a licence to any shop – retail or wholesale – we need to check the premises to see whether they follow the specifications mentioned in drugs and cosmetics act. If they deal in injections and vaccines that need to be kept under a certain temperature, we need to ensure that they maintain the cold chain,” an official said.
Currently, there are 18,000 licensed wholesale and retail drug dealers and 63 allopathic drug manufacturers, 6 homeopathic drug manufacturers and 500 cosmetic manufacturers, who are also regulated under the same act and have to be inspected by the department. The drug control department is also responsible for ensuring the quality of blood at the city’s 62 blood banks.
And, the department has only 14 drug inspectors. “Seven other candidates have been finalised and their paperwork is being processed. They will join us soon but 10 posts would remain vacant even then,” an official said.
If all the posts are filled, there will be a total of 31 drug inspectors. And, they will be responsible for checking all the facilities mentioned above at least once a year, according to the Dr Mashelkar Committee report of 2005, which is used to define the norms of the industry. The same report states that there should be one drug inspector for every 50 manufacturing unit and 200 licensed vendors.
This means Delhi should have a minimum of 102 drug inspectors.
Moreover, the samples picked up by these inspectors for quality check are sent to the single lab at North West Delhi’s Lawrence Road, which is shared by Delhi’s food safety department for testing their food samples as well.
“As soon as we receive reports of a drug being spurious or not of standard quality, we recall that particular drug of that manufacturer and file a case against them. However, it takes about a month for the department to receive results from the lab,” he said.