Posters and banners of the Bihar health minister have sprouted at medicine shops after raids on wholesalers in the state capital, where some offenders were apparently trying to advertise their “political connection” to escape the law.
The effort made no impact as drug controllers carried on with their raids with clear instructions from health minister Tej Pratap Yadav, the elder son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, not to be misled by such tactics.
Bihar dug controller Ramesh Kumar said 72 raids were conducted in December and nine more this month to prevent the sale of exorbitantly-priced, spurious, irrational and banned drugs as well as those past their sell by date.
Besides, they were checking for over-the-counter magic remedies — potions and pills that promise miracles such as height increase, hair growth, cure for appendicitis, epilepsy and impotence. These medicines usually come from Meerut and Agra.
“They cannot claim 100% cure as they do. There are 54 diseases listed in the schedule on which false claims of magic therapy cannot be made,” Kumar said. “Raids will continue. The banners and posters are an attempt to tarnish the image of the health minister. We, in fact, got many of them removed.”
Besides, there have been instances of wrong combination and irrational composition of drugs sold, which could prove fatal to unsuspecting consumers.
“Around 38 substandard drugs, including commonly used Cetirizine and Al Medazol, have also been detected. Wholesalers have failed to provide bills for these,” the drug official said.
“Even ledgers are not properly maintained. When the administration tightened the noose, they have come up with fake bills from Delhi, Varanasi, Agra and even Dalsinghsarai in Samastipur district. All cases are being examined and stern action will follow.”
The Bihar Chemists and Druggists Association secretary Santosh Kumar said it would cooperate with the state’s attempts to clean up the system but traders should not be harassed on “small technical grounds”.
“The posters and banners of the health minister came up after the RJD election victory. There are many RJD workers, who were happy and placed them on roads as a mark of respect. They were not in shops and it should not be viewed as an attempt to influence anyone or take shelter under it,” he said.
He said the association welcomed raids against fake or spurious medicine.
“But some traders were fined for selling food products, though Lactogen and Protinex are commonly sold at medicine shops. We have met the principal secretary of health, RK Mahajan, and requested him to take a practical approach.”
Kumar clarified that most shops store medicines past their sell by date for reimbursement from companies. “These are not for sale. We clear such medicines twice a year, during Diwali and at the end of the financial year. We cannot do it every day.”