Fake medicines flood market

Tapos Kanti Das

The sale of substandard and fake medicines is causing serious concern for public health across the country.
Drug administration officials said that the supply of fake and counterfeit medicines would not exceed three percent of the  total countrywide supplies.
Three per cent supply of fake, adulterated or substandard medicines could play havoc with public health, said Health Rights Movement president professor Rashid-e-Mahbub.
No study ever took place in this country to determine exactly how much fake, substandard and adulterated medicines  are sold to the non suspecting consumers, said Dhaka University professor of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology Abul Hasnat.
But it can be assumed that the amount would not exceed three per cent, he said.
Unauthorized companies produce and market fake,  counterfeit and substandard versions of well known brands of medicines, said Drug Administration officials.
They said that the listed ingredients were not found in the fake and substandard medicines.
They said that unlicenced companies don’t use the listed ingredients or use them in less than the required quantities to maximize profits.
On February 11, registrations  of 19 substandard drugs produced and marketed by as many companies were suspended by the Drug Administration.
They said that the action was taken after the irregularities were detected by the government drug testing laboratory in the capital.
On January 27, a mobile court jointly ran by the Rapid Action Battalion and the Drug Administration realized Tk 20 lakh in fines from Bristol Pharma Limited at Konabari,  Gazipur for unauthorized production and marketing Penicillin and Cephalosporin, both antibiotic  capsules, said Drug Administration superintendent ATM Golam Kibria Khan.
Drug Administration officials said that in 2015 they took punitive action against 40 other drug companies for unauthorized production of drugs that were of substandard qualities.
Last year, they said, factories of two nameless companies were sealed, one at Keraniganj and the other at Bogra, after realizing fines from them as they were found producing fake medicines and food supplement.
They said that the owner of the nameless company based at Keraniganj was handed one year’s jail with fines.
In 2015, they said, fake and counterfeit medicines worth over 22 crore were seized and  1,235 convictions were given by mobile courts.
They said that in the same year 27 cases were filed with drug courts and six cases with magistrate courts across the country for the offences of selling substandard and counterfeit medicines.
Until mid February of the current year, the Drug Administration seized fake and counterfeit medicines worth about 60 lakh. Mobile courts handed on the spot convictions in 227 cases.
Each year Tk 12000 crore worth of medicines are sold in the country, said officials.
Fake, substandard and adulterated medicines cause death and serious public health problems.
Rashid-e-Mahbub demanded bringing the offenders to book.
Marketed especially in rural areas where people suffer either incurable ailments or even deaths taking such medicines, he said.
The enforcers take occasional actions in the urban areas and no attention is paid to the irregularities in the rural areas, said Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh general secretary Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan.
Drug Administration director and spokesman Md Ruhul Amin  mobile courts take punitive action in crackdowns against medicine shops and the drug  companies.

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