Whistle blower policy to unearth spurious drugs: Azad

July 22nd, 2009 - 7:28 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Now people will be awarded for giving information about spurious drugs, Union Health Minister Ghualm Nabi Azad announced in the Rajya Sabha Wednesday.
“I propose to introduce a whistle blower policy to involve public to provide information on any kind of unlawful activity in the manufacture of drugs,” Azad said.

“Under this policy, the informer would also be entitled to a monetary reward,” he added.

The details of the scheme are being worked out, Azad said.

According to experts, India accounts for 35 percent of spurious drugs in the world and the ministry feels the step would curb the growing market of fake medicines in the country.

Azad said Drugs and Cosmetics Amendment Bill will soon be brought for creating the Central Drug Authority, which would pave the way for making the regulatory mechanism a robust one.

He said many members have raised the issue of spurious and substandard drugs in the house and they have recently amended the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, under which stricter penalties would be awarded to those engaged in making of spurious, adulterated, misbranded and substandard drugs.

The maximum penalty will be up to life imprisonment and fine of Rs.10 lakh or three times the value of confiscated goods, whichever is more.

“Some of the offences are now cognizable and non-bailable. For speedier trial, there would be special designated courts,” the minister said.

The minister said the size of the Indian pharmaceutical industry is about Rs.85,000 crore, out of which exports account for Rs.35,000 crore.

“India ranks fourth in the world in terms of volume production and 12th in terms of value and that is because we manufacture high quality medicines at a low cost,” he said.

The Indian pharmaceutical industry is registering a steady growth of 15-20 percent annually.

“In order to match the growth and keep pace with the latest developments, we are in the process of strengthening and modernizing the regulatory framework. We want to embed the best practices into our regulatory system to make it at par with the best in the world,” he said.

The minister said in this direction, the ministry is taking a number of initiatives, including amendment in rules and regulations, framing of standard operating procedures, augmentation of manpower and infrastructure, training and development of regulatory personnel.

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