I wonder how many of us in India noticed about the news that the pharmaceutical giant Ranbaxy generic drug maker Ranbaxy pleaded guilty on Monday to federal drug safety violations in the US and will pay $500 million in fines to resolve claims that it sold subpar drugs and made false statements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about its manufacturing practices at two factories in India.
If you missed the news please read it either in The New York Times or Reuters or our own Economic Times.
For a country which is obsessed with the Indian Premier League and the personal lives of it's film stars, I don't think this sort of news would garner much attention. Of course, there will one group of us who will be term it as US's vendetta on Indian business interests.
The quality of drugs available in the Indian market has always been doubtful. The details from the news items is alarming . . . unreliable shelf lives, absence of proper quality and safety tests, batches of atorvostatin contained glass particles, lying to the FDA and falsified data. I wonder how much of this is true with the other companies.
In the US, there is a FDA to keep a tab on the companies. Who does that in India?
We've all heard enough stories of how different brands of the same drug differ in their effectiveness. To make matters worse, the number of unethical combination preparations very much against the principles of any drug formulary has been an issue of major concern.
In the corrupt scheme of things in the country, I wonder how much of a policing can one successfully do in the area of pharmaceutical regulations.
As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, the plot thickens in a situation where doctors are educated and updated by the pharmaceutical industry on prescription practices. One can only imagine about the sort of flawed information they will end up getting.
Now, what can the common man do about this.
First of all, there is the well known fact that medicines may not be needed for quite a lot of conditions. It is time we asked ourselves about how serious we are to assimilate interventions such as lifestyle modifications, exercise and diet changes.
There are enough stories about how drugs touted as miracle chemicals turned out to be big killers.
Do recheck if you really need the antibiotic or the analgesic or the anti-histamine being prescribed. And you may not need the umpteen number of multivitamins and supplementary pills. Do query your doctor about why a particular medicine is being given.
And when you have to buy a medicine, buy it from a government run pharmacy if possible. But again, in India you can never tell.
The bottom line . . . prevention is better than cure.