Drug adulteration: Punish the criminals
Health is the root of all happiness. Physicians, health awareness and proper medicine are necessary to maintain good health. At present, the pharmaceutical industry of Bangladesh is having a better time than ever before and they are exporting a lot of high quality drugs abroad. At present 257 pharmaceutical factories in Bangladesh are producing 24000 brands of medicines every year.
Domestic pharmaceutical companies are producing medicines and raw materials about Tk.25,000crore a year, providing employment to 2 lakh people as well as meeting the demand of 98 per cent medicine. The medicine produced by Bangladesh are being exported to 145 countries of the world including the United States. These are definitely bringing a bright image for our country.
Even in the midst of so much good news in the pharmaceutical industry, the bad and sad news is that the manufacture and marketing of adulterated drugs is not going to stop completely but is increasing day by day. A major obstacle to the advancement of the pharmaceutical industry is the production and marketing of adulterated, counterfeit and substandard drugs.
Medicine saves people's lives and when that medicine is contaminated or adulterated, it is a serious crime and everyone thinks criminals should be severely punished. The makers and marketers of adulterated medicine are very organized cycle and if this cycle cannot be eradicated, human life will be further endangered. From 1980 to 1992, many children died from consuming the harmful paracetamol syrup, and according to the government's Department of Drug Administration, the number is more than two thousand.
Counterfeit medicine factories have recently been found in several parts of the country and manufacturers and marketers are spreading these duplicate medicine all over the country and it is becoming a major threat to human life. Expert doctors believe that those involved in the manufacture and marketing of adulterated and counterfeit medicines are committing crimes like genocide and many are dying after consuming these adulterated medicines.
Some unscrupulous traders are counterfeiting the medicines of reputed companies and making huge profits by selling them in the market. There are a number of organized groups involved in the distribution of these counterfeit and adulterated drugs across the country and the members of these groups carry out these tasks very meticulously and tactfully.
Many drug dealers have been jailed by mobile courts for selling counterfeit and adulterated drugs at various times, but the cycle of violence has not stopped but is becoming more pronounced. Drug dealers have been repeatedly warned that counterfeit and expired drugs cannot be sold in any way and that those involved will be brought to justice.
The health risks of patients due to adulterated drugs are constantly increasing and deaths are also occurring across the country. Selling adulterated drugs means cheating the consumer and consumers are buying these adulterated drugs with money and basically they are buying poison instead of drugs.
Approximately 20 per cent of the country's total demand for medicines is adulterated and substandard drugs and all these adulterated and substandard medicines are becoming a death trap for patients.
About 25000 types of medicines are produced in Bangladesh every year out of which only 4000 types of medicines can be tested by the concerned authorities. The government has at various times taken various measures to ban adulterated drugs, such as revoking the license of accused pharmaceutical company, imposing fines and penalties on those involved, but no drastic measures have been taken yet.
Experts believe that the expansion of adulterated drugs cannot be stopped only by conducting raids in pharmacies, but by taking drastic measures and ensuring severe punishment it can be controlled. Failure to crack down on adulterated drugs will make the general public dependent on imported drugs again,
and as a result, the domestic pharmaceutical industry may again suffer massive losses. Those involved in the pharmaceutical industry believe that a strong cycle around Dhaka's Mitford is involved in the manufacture of adulterated and substandard medicines.
Through the country's pharmaceutical companies' own distribution system, 86% of the drugs are delivered to different parts of the country. The remaining 14% are marketed from the wholesale market in Mitford. Experts believe that there are different types of people involved in adulterated medicine, but those involved in production and marketing should be severely punished and all adulterated factories should be eradicated.
The Corona epidemic is now raging worldwide and in the meantime some unscrupulous traders in the country are running a rampant business of adulterated drugs and they must be arrested and severely punished for their crimes and any corruption involved must be investigated.
Manufacturers and marketers of adulterated and counterfeit medicines are very cunning and they use new tactics to carry out all the misdeeds. However, adulterated, counterfeit and substandard drugs are spreading at an alarming rate across the country and the pharmacy dealer are involved in this and they sell these counterfeit drugs in the hope of making more profit.
Regular monitoring is required to stop adulteration of drugs across the country. Transparency and accountability are to be ensured and the main task of the Department of Drug Administration is to strictly monitor and control. The Department of Drug Administration is the supervisory authority and the authority must monitor the market through transparency and accountability and take strict action against those involved. Huge counterfeit and substandard drugs have been seized from Mitford's drug market over the past few years, but the use of such drugs has not diminished due to a lack of exemplary punishment.
Before marketing any type of medicine, it has to be sent to the Department of Drug Administration as a sample and can be marketed after getting permission. But once marketed, the quality of the drug is no longer monitored, which is why some unscrupulous traders take advantage and make counterfeit and substandard drugs. Experts say that one of the responsibilities of the Department of Drug Administration is to occasionally collect drugs from the market and check their quality.
Through proper monitoring of the drug market, arresting the perpetrators and providing appropriate and exemplary punishment to the perpetrators, the expansion of duplicate medicine can be stopped.
The writer is asst. professor,
B A F Shaheen College Kurmitola,Dhaka Cantonment.