The ground situation shows that 99 percent of drugs may be fake and not the other way round.
With officials of Drug Controller claiming that 99 percent of drugs in Kashmir are of perfect standard, doctors are up in arms saying that the market is flooded with fake drugs which is resulting in ineffective treatment and even death of patients.
Over the years, medical fraternity has been claiming that the health sector in Kashmir is heading towards a disaster, as easily treatable infectious diseases are turning lethal due to sub-standard and fake drugs. “There is no stopping of fake and sub-standard drugs in Kashmir. In fact this trade has increased manifold due to official patronage,” said Dr Nissar-ul-Hassan, president Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK). “After we exposed the 2013 drug scandal, we expected the culprits to be put behind bars, but nothing of that sort has happened.”
Dr Nisar claimed that people are dying in large numbers due to these fake drugs. “We have numerous examples to prove our claims. Common infections like Pneumonia and Gastroenteritis that can be easily treated at community level hospitals become complicated and even lead to death as initial drugs prescribed to patients turn out to be fake,” said Dr Nisar. “Even a common person knows that a single paracetamol tablet is unable to cure simple headache.”
Officials have negated the claims of prevalence of sub-standard drugs. “Every month we test up to 200 drugs and just five percent have some problems. Of them, 4 percent have misprints or labeling problem and just one percent have potency problem,” said Dr Nazir Ahmad Wani, Controller, Drugs & Food. “We collect samples from all around the valley and our tests indicate that drugs are of perfect quality here.”
DAK has reacted strongly to the report. “The ground situation shows that 99 percent of drugs may be fake and not the other way round. There is a lobby in the government and private sector that is ensuring that their multi-million Rupees industry is safeguarded,” said Dr Nisar.
Other doctors too expressed their doubts over sub-standard drugs. “There is no quality control. For example we get two similar drugs, one costs Rs 500 and another Rs 80. Even as we expect Rs 500 drug to work perfectly, but that doesn’t happen and we have no idea which drug to prescribe for best results,” said a doctor at valley’s premier tertiary care hospital. “We often get frustrated when patients don’t recover despite all our efforts.”
Doctors are now demanding that either the government outsources the drug testing to some good laboratory or make the Drug Testing Laboratory at Dalgate fully autonomous. “The drug testing laboratory here doesn’t publish their weekly or monthly reports on their website or even declares any drug unsafe. This shows their seriousness to combat the issue,” said Dr Nisar. “They don’t tell us wherefrom do they collect samples, if ever they do.”
Meanwhile the much awaited Microbiology Lab for Kashmir is yet to be established. In the absence of the lab, the experts can’t establish the growth of microbes in injections.
“The state is facing financial crunch due to which the work on the laboratory is suspended,” said an official. “If we need to undertake microbial tests then the sample has to be sent to either Jammu or Kolkatta.”