In the first six months of fiscal 2011 tests of drug samples found 1,420 substandard pharmaceuticals in India.
State authorities tested more than 26,000 samples over the six month period and found that five per cent were substandard. An Indian minister presented the data in reply to questioning in parliament and defended actions by the government to tackle substandard and counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
“The government has taken steps to check the menace of spurious and substandard drugs. [Also,] the Drugs Controller General of India has denied any report of deaths”, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Indian minister of health and family welfare, said.
Overall the incidence of substandard drugs is up slightly on last year and is on course to top the figure for the total number of products with quality failings. In recent years the total number of substandard drugs and incidence and have fluctuated around 2,000 and five per cent respectively.
Hauls of substandard drugs were concentrated in certain states. Gujarat and Maharashtra accounted for one-third of all substandard drugs. Both were tested more extensively than other regions but still had a higher incidence of substandard pharmaceutical products, eight per cent in the case of Gujarat.
Tests are done at state laboratories, of which there are 29 across India as shown on the map below. Another questioner asked if there were plans to add new laboratories or expand existing facilities but Azad failed to provide a direct answer.
“The modernisation of the existing drugs testing laboratories as well as setting up of new laboratories…is a continuous and ongoing process, depending upon the needs of the situation and the available resources of the government”, Azad said.