Delay in quality tests; Keralites consuming substandard medicines

The Drug Control wing tests the medicines months after their distribution | Photo: Representational Image/ Shutterstock

Kozhikode: The continued delay in carrying out quality checks of medicines is resulting in the masses of the state consuming substandard medicines. Only a small portion of the three drugs that the Drugs Control wing recently decided to withdraw could be seized back. The rest already landed in the hands of the patients. This occurred due to delays in the inspections by the Drug Control wing and steps taken by the Kerala Medical Services Corporation Limited (KMSCL).

The Calcium, Aspirin, and Metformin tablets that Maiden Pharmaceuticals, Haryana, distributes failed the quality test. Following this, the KMSCL decided to withdraw these medicines from the hospitals. However, out of the 2.55 lakh calcium tablets that reached Thiruvananthapuram from the Aluva depot, only 94,095 were returned. The patients had already consumed 1.60 lakh tablets. Out of the 12 lakh aspirin tablets for heart diseases, only 5,57,450 could be collected back. Similarly, out of the 1.09 crore Metformin tablet distributed in two batches for diabetes, below 14.90 lakh tablets found their way back. This information has been revealed in an RTI query reply recently.

Though the medicines fail the quality test, the pharma firms do not face any loss. Three out of five categories of medicines purchased from Maiden Pharmaceuticals using Rs 4.58 crore of National Health Mission failed the quality test, but the company received the payment of Rs 4.16 crore.

The complaints mainly arose from the health centers in Thiruvananthapuram, Wayanad, Alappuzha, Kannur, Kasaragod, and Palakkad. It has been reported that the medicines crumbled when taken from the packet, and the patients suffered uneasiness after using the medicines.

The Drug Control wing tests the medicines months after their distribution. Though the firms that distributed them had faced KMSCL action years ago, their medicines worth crores of rupees were purchased without any inspections.

The order to purchase these drugs, which can even be termed as counterfeit, was placed after rejecting the objections raised by the KMSCL officials against purchasing them from the same company that had supplied them earlier. The only action that the KMSCL has taken on the issue is asking the pharma company to take back the substandard drugs and supply new ones.

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