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Health ministry's mini drug testing lab project moves at snail's pace due to slow procurement of equipment

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Friday, January 5, 2018, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The union health ministry's mini drug testing lab project is moving at a snail's pace due to the slow procurement of equipment. The project envisages setting up of mini drug testing labs at Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi and Chennai.

The project, which was scheduled to kickstart last year, is yet to become operational for want of adequate equipments. The delay in the project will have far reaching implications on the quality of drugs imported into the country. This is despite the fact that the union health ministry had appointed an agency for the same but barely 50% procurement of equipment for each of the labs has been done till date.

The project is primarily aimed at enhancing the capability for analysis and detection of spurious, NSQ and counterfeit medicines in less than 40 seconds time for exports at the airport without any manual intervention.

According to the plan, labs will be equipped with advanced analytical modalities like AAS, GC, HPLC, IR and NIRS among others for effective detection, analysis and reporting on drug quality.

Estimated to cost around Rs. 25 crore for which funds have already been sanctioned, the mini-labs will be manned by a team of nine technical personnel led by a senior scientific officer. Government is also planning to expand CDSCO’s capacity by 2020 by adding a total of 20 mini drug-testing labs at the port offices of the drug regulator.

Three of the eight mini- labs were also expected to start last year at Nhava Sheva at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Navi Mumbai, Mumbai Airport and Ahmedabad Airport as a part of its mandate to control exports and imports of spurious drugs.

In most of the cases, high end equipment have not been commissioned. In Chennai and Delhi, space and other issues are still being sorted out, explained an official associated with the development.

Central government had allocated Rs. 900 crore for enhancing manpower and capacities of mini labs at port offices and mobile labs at CDSCO level. A total of additional 1,195 posts were also sanctioned for upgradation of manpower and labs under the 12th five year plan.


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