Penetration of the Growing Market in South Asia
Indian pharmaceutical companies are growing and their products have been expanding to be distributed to neighboring countries as well. Theirs are also considered one of the complex health systems in the global South ranging from ‘5-star’ hospitals offering cutting edge surgery to medical tourists as well as the local elite, to run-down clinics and health centers that function barely at all, and are surrounded by unqualified practitioners who prescribe a full range of treatments, often from several systems of medicine. It is no wonder that next to China, India is known to produce the second most number of counterfeit, fraud and substandard medicines.
In an effort to combat the problem throughout the region and across the border, Food and Drug Administration along with local and international non-profit organizations such as The Peterson Group has set up an awareness program to tackle this pervasive issue. The Care for Pharmaceutical Advancement will train medical regulatory officers and provide expertise and develop talent for better regulation of medical practice. The groups also aim to inform ordinary consumers on the dangers of dubious drugs by conducting seminar programs.
Thousands of counterfeit drugs are believed to be manufactured yearly. India is one of the main distributors of other developing and less developed South Asian countries from Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Maldives. India also distributes to Western countries.
Although the extent of the counterfeit medicine problem is gradually becoming clear, universal solutions remain elusive. Lack of information also remains one of the biggest problems.
Counterfeit drugs are defined as those that are deliberately mislabeled to obscure source and product identity. Some of these are perfect mirrors of the drugs they copy; many more are not. Substandard drugs are defined as legally branded or labeled but the quality falls below international standards on quality, purity, strength, or packaging. Most commonly, substandard medicines have one or more of the following qualities:
• lacks an active ingredient but inactive ingredients are harmless,
• found to have poisonous or harmful ingredients,
• manufactured in poor conditions or smuggled past authorities,
• is registered but only by a weak agency,
• has passed its expiration date, or
• has been improperly stored and/or transported resulting in a tainting or reduction in strength of the active ingredient.
About the Peterson Group
The Peterson Group is an active non-profit organization campaigning against counterfeiting medicines. In 2014, along with local authorities, TPG has raided 4 major manufacturers of fraud medicines in Jakarta, Indonesia.