No quality control of drugs in J&K

Government risking health of thousands of patients

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Srinagar: Despite reports of inferior quality and expired drugs being used in government hospitals, the health department has remained inactive on the quality of drugs supplied to state-run hospitals.

Sources in the health department told KNS that in fact, whole drug market in the state is under the dragnet of poor-quality drugs. “There is a deep-rooted nexus between the drug mafia and shoddy pharma units that pump massive quantities of substandard drugs in JK,” sources said.

Sources maintained that the state government continues to maintain a silence over the critical issue which is risking the health of thousands of patients.

Sources said that it cannot be ruled out that every day patients die because of substandard and falsified medications.

83 drugs have been found substandard and mis-branded during the last two years, which was revealed by the Health Minister on the floor of the Assembly. This is the tip of the ice-berg as most of the drugs remain unchecked, sources said.

Sources maintained that it has been seen from last so many years that less than 1% of the drugs get actually checked and more than 99% of medicines are entering Jammu and Kashmir without quality assurance.

Sources told KNS that there are doctors who prescribe these drugs to patients and in return receive huge money from these firms.

“Some doctors are on pay-rolls of these companies,” sources said and alleged that this is within the knowledge of authorities and agencies meant to control the menace.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India in its latest report has also brought to fore some derogatory revelations on how patients’ health is being compromised due to absence of a drug testing policy in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The audit revealed that no policy mechanism was in place for testing of drugs before these are administered to patients,” reads the report which was tabled in the State Assembly recently.

It is to mention here that the Government had set-up the JKMSCL to ensure standard drug supply to the state-run hospitals and also maintain a transparency in the purchase of medical equipment. But the entire process has now come under scanner, with several drug samples tested by the DFCO found to be “not of standard quality.”

“The concern here is that the organization set-up by the Government itself to ensure safe and quality drugs has come under radar for supplying substandard drugs to the hospitals. This is being confirmed by none other than another Government organization—the drug and food control organisation,” said a senior official of J&K’s health department.

While the JKMSCL has been asserting that the drugs supplied to the hospitals were of “standard quality” and had been “declared of standard quality twice by two certified labs of the national accreditation board of laboratories”, the DFCO has stood by the outcome of its investigations which have shown these drugs to be spurious.

Officials in DFCO said their role in JKMSCL supplies was only supervisory as the corporation was mandated to get each and every batch of medicine procured tested from laboratories accredited by the national accreditation board of laboratories.

“But the fact that in the past few months a number of cases about substandard drugs have come to fore shows gross lapses in quality control,” an official said.

In early January, a serious case of antibiotic injections mixed with steroid injections was reported from GB Pant Children’s Hospital in srinagar, following which 19,000 vials—the JKMSCL supply—had to be recalled.

Doctors have set the alarm bells ringing, arguing that the supply of sub-standard drugs could create havoc for healthcare in J&K.

“The irony is that quality of medicines is being compromised at the cost of patients’ health and the government which had set up the corporation with much hype is refusing to act despite reports coming to fore about substandard drugs,” said a senior doctor. (KNS)

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