Irfan Tramboo

Drug quality goes for a toss in absence of strict monitoring

Drug quality goes for a toss in absence of strict monitoring
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Srinagar:  With fourteen drugs found to be of sub-standard in a span of just 6 months by the Drugs and Food Control Organization J&K (DFCO) so far this year, the presence of a central drug supervising authority seems to be necessary for the State to guarantee that the patients are consuming drugs of standard quality and are not taken for a ride.

As of now, there is no authority that can monitor the inflow of drugs to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, except DFCO that randomly lifts samples from the market, nailing some, while the majority of drugs go unchecked.

With State having Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation Limited (JKMSCL)  meant for supplying drugs and equipment for all the government health institutions, it is, as per the objectives note of the corporation, taking care of the quality of medicines that are being supplied to the hospital, however, the private market still remains unchecked.

The JKMSCL seems to have a sturdy policy in place, which makes sure that the drugs are supplied to the hospitals only after they undergo a quality test.

“If such samples (that are to be supplied to the hospitals) pass the quality test in all respects, JKMSCL shall instruct its Warehouses to issue items of drugs to various hospitals/institutions,” reads that policy statement of JKMSCL.

On the opposite, the drugs are lifted and declared to be sub-standard only after they are consumed by the patients, and only if the particular drug (s) catches the attention, where there is a time period involved.

As of now, the officials say, there is no such support in place that would ensure that all the drugs that are in the market, are allowed to be consumed after a quality test, making the patients vulnerable to substandard drugs.

“As of now, it is not possible to test each and every medicine in the market, it is beyond the expanse of whatever infrastructure is in place,” an official said.

As per figures, there are approximately 40,000 brands of medicines that are doing rounds of the markets in the J&K and at the same time, there are around 20,000 retail and wholesale outlets that are functional in the state as of now.

The officials are saying that the JKMSCL is taking care of drugs and equipment that are provided to the government hospitals, and the DFCO is taking care of the market, “but still the drugs of substandard quality do sneak in, and to plug that there is a need for a comprehensive policy, till something bigger is put in place,” the official said.

Amid such a dismal picture, there seems to be a ray of hope sparkling, not now, but in future, as the Govt is planning something new on these lines.

It has envisaged setting up of a particular point at Lakhanpur, where, it says, every drug, which is going to be available in the markets of the State, will be checked and will be permitted to proceed only after it passes the quality check test.

“Keeping in view lack of infrastructure, we, not only will be increasing our testing capacity, which is 4000 samples (per annum) as of now, there is also a plan for setting up laboratories with the help of Central Govt at Lakhanpur, which is the gateway of the State, where each and every drug will be tested,” said Lotika Khajuria, adding “this is the plan, but it will take time.”

However, until that is done, the State will be dealing with the menace of substandard drugs, and to nip the menace in the bud, the experts are advocating a Joint Action Plan by the DFCO and the JKSMCL.

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