Rampant distribution of spurious medicine has come up as a major challenge in southern Assam. These substandard drugs are posing a great threat to public health, particularly in the Barak Valley.
There has been a sharp rise in the number of fake medicines available in the markets of Barak Valley, with the Grahak Suraksha Samiti (GSS), Cachar blowing the whistle. But the drug inspection machinery continues to look the other way, for reasons best known to the state government.
It is a serious issue as people often fail to distinguish between original and fake medicines. Fake medicines can prove fatal as it may be contaminated or have improper ingredients. The availability of spurious drugs is posing a serious threat to human life as patients in their ignorance continue to buy these for their cure.
According to the GSS, some shadowy, anonymous medicine companies have been successfully imitating the covers and labels of original medicine strips. The strip remains the same while the content differs. In rural areas in particular, most people who have little or no knowledge about medicines, consume these spurious products. Besides, most rural people here are illiterate, and it is impossible for them to distinguish fake medicines from real ones by examining the fine print on bottle labels and covers.
Most of the people, as mentioned by a GSS spokesperson, depend on the local pharmacy for medicines. In emergency cases, people usually do not get ample time to check the medicine strips, so it increases their chances of buying fake medicines.
The GSS has questioned the role of the drug inspector who is conspicuously found to be inactive, whether deliberately or under compulsion. In fact, it is the responsibility of the Assistant Drug Controller and his staff to do routine drug checks. It has been alleged that they are presently engaged in NRC work.
Moreover, the assistant drug inspector has to cover all the three Barak districts, and can hardly do justice to the monitoring and vigilance work required. In the prevailing situation of open and blatant sale of fake medicines and the hazards to life these are posing, the Cachar GSS is demanding that the assistant drug controller should properly investigate this matter from all angles, hold drug and medicine stores accountable for dealing in fake medicines and initiate proper deterrent action against them.