The Indian government has finally improved their laws to address this important public health issue. While these new laws took five years before enactment, on August 10, India’s Ministry for Health & Family Welfare began enforcing the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Act of 2008.

Kubic (sm)

Thomas T. Kubic

 

With reports of spurious and counterfeit drugs manufactured in India regularly appearing in the Indian and world markets, the Indian government has finally improved their laws to address this important public health issue.  While these new laws took five years before enactment, on August 10, India’s Ministry for Health & Family Welfare began enforcing the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Act of 2008.  The Act sets stricter punishments and penalties for criminals and unscrupulous businessmen who manufacture adulterated, substandard or defected drugs.  Sentences range from a minimum prison term of 10 years to a life sentence.  Plus a minimum fine of Rs10 lakh ($20,800 USD) or three times the value of the illegitimate drugs, depending on which has a higher value.

It is hard to say how well these new laws will be in protecting consumers from the dangers of counterfeit drugs because India still lacks an effective inspection regime.  Un-resourced, with some reports of a mere 35 drug inspectors currently in place, new laws alone will have  little impact on counterfeiters. What is really needed are immediate increases in staff to appropriately enforce these new laws.  And, hopefully, the people of India will not have to wait five years before seeing more inspectors on the job.

The Indian government has taken the first steps to confront the counterfeit drug problem and it is to be commended.  We hope that other countries will follow their lead.  Just as Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) outlined in our International Principles for Drug Safety, increasing punishments for those who put consumer’s lives in harm’s way is one of the keys to halting the production and distribution of dangerous counterfeit drugs.  To learn more about PSM’s ideas to combating counterfeit drugs, visit www.safemedicines.org.