WATCH OUT before you pop in a pill! Even if you exude confidence that the chemist has given genuine medicine, the Health Department bosses monitoring manufacture and sale of drugs in the State may doubt its authenticity.
Reason: Around 12,000 drug samples are lying in stores of the State Public Analyst Laboratory, awaiting analysis. Drug inspectors deputed in various districts have collected drug samples from manufacturing units, wholesalers, retailers and hospitals before dispatching those to the Public Analyst Laboratory to ensure the drugs being sold at these outlets were genuine.
However, instead of landing on the table of the public analyst, majority of the samples are rotting in the stores. “More than 60 per cent of the posts in the laboratory are lying vacant for the past several years. With inadequate staff, we cannot test all the samples,” said additional director (Medical Health) and in-charge of the Public Analyst Laboratory, Dr BK Verma.
Few months back, drug inspectors conducted surprise raid on drug manufacturing units and drug outlets in Lucknow, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Bareilly, Gorakhpur and Meerut. Samples of suspected fake drugs were dispatched to the laboratory but their test is still pending.
State drug controller Sadguru Prasad said as Lucknow did not have facility and equipment to test drugs, samples were sent to the Central Drug Laboratory, Kolkata. However, the Kolkata laboratory has refused to test the samples.
“The government released Rs 12 crore but it was spent on renovation of the laboratory building and purchasing few instruments. Instead of filling up posts of laboratory technicians, the government has decided to post medical practitioners who have been promoted to the level of joint director in the laboratory” a Health Department officer said.
He added, “Bulk samples are those drugs the inspectors suspect to be spurious ones. However, the samples were not tested and we cannot initiate action against chemists or manufacturers involved in fake drug business.”
A Public Analyst Department data throws light on the fake drug racket in the market. Health Department report states 12 per cent of the drugs analysed in the laboratory in 1990 were found to be spurious. In 2002, 30 per cent of the 550 samples analysed were found to be fake. The scene worsened in 2005 with 40 per cent of the drugs being sub-standard.
An officer in the Drug Department confided that this were just the tip of the iceberg. He said that test and analysis of all the drug samples would have presented the real picture of fake drug industry flourishing in Uttar Pradesh.