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Final report on spurious drugs survey to be submitted to health ministry next week

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Saturday, October 22, 2016, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Compilation of field data to the tune of 48,000 samples done as a part of national drugs survey along with a final report based on analysis of 10 drug testing labs from across the country is expected to be submitted to the Union ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) by next week.

A similar survey in 2009 had revealed that the extent of drugs found spurious was 0.046 per cent. Only 10 per cent of the samples were tested during the pan-India study done in 2009.

The survey is significant as studies till date have been done only for spurious drugs and no 100 per cent testing for NSQ has been done till date. The survey which is a part of the co-ordinated efforts between Centre and the states will help project a clear statistics on spurious drugs, thus clarifying India’s stand on the same with scientific evidence.

Dr Surinder Singh, director, National Institute of Biologicals (NIB), Noida, is the chairman of the committee which conducted the survey.

Done at an estimated cost of Rs.8.5 crore, the Union health ministry had entrusted the job of National Drugs Survey in July 28, 2014 to Noida based National Institute of Biologicals to accomplish for the first time complete testing of NSQ drugs as per Indian pharmacopoeia and other pharmacopoeias.

The analysis and testing was facilitated through a specialised AKS software which offers field data on spurious and NSQ drugs online on a consistent basis in a seamless and flawless manner. This field data on drugs was being sent online to Central Drug Testing Labs (CDTL) in Chandigarh, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Guwahati for analysis and final report. Other State Drugs Testing Labs at Vadodara, Karnataka and at IPC, Ghaziabad are also a part of testing and analysis.

As part of the national drug survey, samples were collected from 665 of the total 676 districts of the country based on a statistical design encompassing all the retail drug stores including government medical stores, CHCs and PHCs.

Aimed at identifying geographical areas where spurious drugs are available, around 1000 drug inspectors from across the country were trained for the pan-India initiative. In order to assess the extent of spurious drugs and NSQ drugs in a comprehensive manner, the drug regulatory authority - Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) formulated the survey plan in consultation with NIB for conducting the study.

The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) had asked the state governments to provide information to arrive at a statistical design for the survey like information such as the number of retail outlets (district-wise), information regarding the maximum prescription of drugs under each of the 15 categories including their trade name district wise; number of civil hospital stores (district-wise), number of central medical store (state-wise) and number of Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) dispensaries throughout the country.

In order to facilitate effective sampling of drugs by the drugs inspectors, all the 224 molecules covering 15 therapeutic drug categories were assigned a unique sequence in the format developed through a statistical design which ensured that the drug inspector can pick up samples only on the basis of statistical design and not on his own.

The survey was done in collaboration with Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata and Hyderabad and National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) to assess the quality of drugs available to the patients.


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