Essential drugs distributed in Kerala govt hospitals fail quality tests

Kozhikode: The samples of essential medicines, including Paracetamol and Amoxicillin, being distributed at the government hospitals across the state regularly fail quality tests, it has emerged.

Besides those of the private pharmaceutical companies and small-scale manufacturing units, the drugs manufactured by the Alappuzha-based state public sector undertaking 'Kerala State Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd' (KSDPL) failed to clear the quality tests.

The Kerala State Medical Services Corporation (KMSCL), which takes legal action against private pharmaceutical firms over such incidents, is in a fix over what to do in the case of the government institution KSDPL.

As many as 125 of the total samples of drugs collected till June by drug inspectors in the state failed quality tests. Out of this, 43 were made by the KSDPL. The 24 samples of Amoxicillin manufactured by the KSDPL fared poorly in the tests, while drugs such as Aspirin and Albendazole too were found to have quality issues.

A total of 219 drugs were found not adhering to the standard quality last year. Out of this, 27 were manufactured by the KSDPL. The samples of medicines such as Aspirin, Albendazole, and Povidone failed the quality tests then.

Three batches of Paracetamol, manufactured by Goa-based Geno Pharmaceuticals Private Ltd, failed the test. This forced the authorities to freeze the distribution of two more batches of the medicine, resulting in nearly 60 lakh pills being withdrawn from the market.

The state government is spending crores for the efficient functioning of the KSDPL. Besides the amount allocated in the budget, the medical corporation purchases products worth Rs 60 crore a year from the KSDPL.

Upon the samples failing the quality testing, the usual procedure adopted by the KMSCL is to freeze distribution of the batch of drugs till a decision is taken over the effective disposal of the remaining lot. It will initiate legal action, forfeit the security deposit after cancelling the contract and hold back the payment of the remaining amount. If the loss can’t be met through these measures, then the assets of the manufacturing companies will be seized. However, all these measures can’t be initiated against the KSDPL since it’s a government institution.

KSDPL admits to failing quality tests

KSDPL Managing Director E A Subramanian admitted that samples of certain medicines had failed the quality tests. In the case of Amoxicillin, a technical fault in properly ceiling the medicinal bottles resulted in the problem. This batch of medicines has been withdrawn. There are also issues with the quality of certain other drugs due to technical factors. A study to determine the corrective measures has been completed, he said.

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