The sale of spurious and without warranty drugs usually takes place in undeveloped countries where thousands of people are associated with this cruel and inhumane business.
It is estimated that billions of dollars of such medicine are sold to ailing people every year which doesn’t have any effect on their health and have no ability to treat their diseases.
Suzanne Hill a director in World Health Organization (WHO) department of essential medicine and health product state in a report that there are estimated 1 in every 10 drugs, in developing counties is either spurious or substandard.
Such products are posing a great threat to thousands of lives and loss of millions of dollars exchequer on a daily basis in underdeveloped countries.
Technically speaking spurious medicine are those which have no active pharmaceutical ingredient/s (API) but are designed in such a manner which seems to be exactly like the original and standard drugs.
Such medicines are flooded in Pakistani markets and in the majority of the cases, even the technical people associated with its business don’t know about the authenticity of the product.
The term warrant is usually associate with electrical appliances and other items of daily use which means that the product if fail to work in a designated period of time, the company will have to replace or repair it.
Almost 99 % of ordinary people are not aware that medicine too has the warranty and as per law it is mandatory that a medical store will have to keep the warranty of all the pharmaceutical products/medicine available in the medical store or Pharmacy.
Any drug which does not have the warranty will be considered illegal in terms of law and a case can be registered under Drug Act 1976 by a drug inspector against the medical store/pharmacy keeping any such product.
The warranty of the product is supplied by its manufacturer to the distributor or importer of the product and the said distributor or importer is responsible to supply that product to the retailers in the market.
It is the sole responsibility of the retailer that he should purchase the product only from that distributor who has the legal authority from the manufacturer/ pharmaceutical industry about that product.
Drug wholesale markets in Pakistan
Unfortunately, in Pakistan, the drugs and medicine are usually available in the wholesale markets, without a legal warranty and every retailer is free to purchase their desired product from such markets without taking care of the legal aspects of the issue. There is also no check on the sale of drugs from the whole sellers and distributors to the retailers / medical store and pharmacies owners.
The people who are associated with the illegal business of spurious and fake medicine takes advantage of this situation and sell their fake medicine to the wholesalers and retailers. In some case, they also provide bogus warranties to the retailers which pretend that the product is legal and safe but actually it is not.
Such unlawful warranties cannot be used by the retailers to protect themselves from legal action taken against them by the drug administration.
Judgments by the Drug Courts
A detailed judgment has also been issued regarding the sale of spurious and non- warranty drug by the Lahore Division Drug Court chairperson Azra Perveen. She has also stated in her judgment that if the provisions of Drug Act 1976 is implemented in letter and spirit the menace of spurious and fake medicine can easily be eliminated from society.
She has also urged the retailers/ chemists and druggists not to accept such warranties from the distributors and report such matter to the concerned Drug Inspector.
Spurious and without warranty Drugs in government hospitals
Recently a case of a high level of negligence came to the surface in which spurious medicines were being supplied to Ayub Teaching Hospital (ATH), Abbottabad, one of the biggest hospital of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa (KP) which provides tertiary care health services to the people of Manshere division.
A local, Fazal Surgical and Add Life Pharma contractor was involved while providing without warranty life-saving medicine to the hospital under the nose of technical people.
These without warranty and spurious medicines include injections like Vit K, atropine, benzyl penicillin, adrenaline and calcium gluconate. The doctors and the patients considered that there is nothing wrong with these products but in reality, the spurious medicines were being injected into the ailing people.
A case of similar nature has also been reported in Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH), another biggest hospital of KP where fake medicine has been recovered by the drug inspector form its medical store and later on FIR has been registered against the concerned officials by the drug administration of KP.
Manufacturing of Spurious medicines
In the majority of the cases, the spurious medicines are manufactured in the far-flung areas where the chances of getting caught at the hands of drug inspectors and other law enforcing agencies are less. In some cases, the spurious medicines and also brought from our neighbouring countries by illegal means.
These spurious medicines are then supplied to the market and sold in clinics operated by quacks and non-professional people.
All such products can easily be found in the clinics of quacks and non-professional people who have no formal education and knowledge in the field of health sciences.
It is also very shocking that the majority of qualified medical doctors are not aware of such products due to the reason that they don’t know about the business-related aspects of medicine and other pharmaceutical products.
Role of Pharmacists against the spurious and without warranty Drugs
The cases of spurious medicine which are reported from govt and other recognized hospitals are mainly due to the reason that the role a Pharmacist has been neglected in the process of selecting and purchasing the medicine for hospital routine use.
The menace of spurious medicine can only be eliminated completely from any country by giving full authority to those qualified pharmacists who have obtained their degrees from recognized universities. The pharmacists are to be made responsible about every aspect of drugs and medicines in the community as well as in-hospital setups.
Government responsibilities and amendments in the existing laws
In the meantime, it is the sole responsibility of the govt to do necessary amendments in the existing outdated laws ie Pharmacy Act 1967 and Drug Act 1976 and remove the loopholes and lacunae in these laws so that the culprits associated with the sale of spurious and without warranty drugs should not escape from the ambit of law and can be held accountable and dealt with an iron hand.