Following the WHO's warning, the centre is looking into four cough syrups that may be responsible for at least 66 child deaths in The
Gambia. India has already been under fire for exporting fake and substandard medications, but it also has a similar issue at home.
Indian-made cough syrups are being investigated in connection with the deaths of 66 children in Gambia, a West African country.
Here is a look at the massive problem of fake medications.
It is no secret that counterfeit medicines and drugs are sold in Jammu and Kashmir too. After consuming fake cough syrup,
twelve underprivileged children from the Ramnagar area of the Udhampur district died in January-February 2020. In accordance
with the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, a FIR was filed against the cough syrup producers. In September 2020, the NHRC criticised the
pharmaceuticals department for failing to maintain routine oversight of the quality and composition of medications sold under its
purview. The commission also mandated that each child's next of kin receive Rs 3 lakh in compensation.
The WHO alerted the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) that it was offering the Gambia, where children had died, expert
support and guidance. The WHO hypothesised that the deaths were related to the usage of medications that might have been
tainted with diethylene glycol or ethylene glycol, a deadly compound that has been linked to numerous episodes of mass poisoning.
According to preliminary research, the four syrups in question—Promethazine Oral Solution BP, Kofexnalin Baby Cough Syrup,
MaKoff Baby Cough Syrup, and MaGrip n Cold Syrup—were manufactured in Sonepat by M/s Maiden Pharmaceutical Limited. The
State Drug Controller granted the business a licence to manufacture these goods and export them only to The Gambia.
It is pertinent to note that an American report from 2019 claimed that India was a major supplier of fake medications marketed
locally. According to the report, India sends fake medications to South America, Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, the European
Union, and the United States. India, on the other hand, has denied the accusations, claiming that they were an attack on
inexpensive generic medications, which are essential for keeping healthcare costs down. Thus, the most recent event has
significantly tarnished India's reputation around the world, particularly given that India has been boasting for its “Make in India”
campaign. India only has 47 drug testing sites and 6 central laboratories under the National Good Laboratory Practice programme,
testing only 8,000 samples annually. Additionally, there are only 20–30 test labs in the US that can determine whether a medicine is
real, a fake, or of subpar quality. According to experts, stricter regulations are required to prevent such malpractices.
Around 70% of India's raw materials, such as basic pharmaceutical drugs and important formulations, are imported from China,
whose deteriorating relations with the country have changed the direction of the nation's pharmaceutical industry. Despite our
pledge to “Make in India,” “we will need to make difficult decisions regarding our drug addiction and home market. While the
government is attempting to make India self-sufficient, a potential drug scarcity and a focus inward could provide another
obstacle—the dangers of fake drugs. Generic drugs made in the country have frequently been criticised for failing quality checks.
About 10.5% of medicines supplied in low- and middle-income nations, including India, are subpar and fake, according to a 2017
World Health Organization (WHO) assessment.” This is especially concerning at a time when concerns about the sufficiency of
essential medical supplies are widespread due to decreased output and rising demand almost everywhere.