Terra Pharma – WHO ruling on two India-made cough syrups should lead to a thorough, transparent investigation at home

Source: The post is based on the article “Terra Pharma – WHO ruling on two India-made cough syrups should lead to a thorough, transparent investigation at home” published in The Times of India on 13th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Relevance: About the concerns with Indian cough syrups makers.

News: The production licence of a drug firm was suspended after the WHO edict that two cough syrups made by the company should not be used for children.

What are the recent concerns associated with Indian cough syrups makers?

a) Ambronol and DOK-1 Max were found in Indian drugs these contain toxic ethylene glycol. This is linked to 19 children’s deaths in Uzbekistan, b) A similar tragedy occurred in the Gambia where the deaths of 70 children were linked to the consumption of four contaminated syrups made by an Indian pharma manufacturer.

In both cases, poor manufacturing of solvents used in the medicines is the reason behind the issue.

Note: Medicines manufactured for export to rich countries are made according to the specifications of the importing country.

Must read: Uzbekistan says 18 children die due to cough syrup made by an Indian firm; blame it on ethylene glycol
Why is this a cause of concern for the Indian pharma sector?

Problems in India: These products were not sold in India. The medicines manufactured for use in India generally meet adequate standards. However, the problem of fake or less-than-ideally- effective pills persists.

Loss of India’s reputation: The malpractices of Indian pharma companies will create a wrong impact on India’s manufacturing/regulatory capability.

What should be done to ensure proper manufacturing of pharma products?

The government must undertake a thorough and transparent inquiry focussed on the supply chain. This should happen from vendors of active pharmaceutical ingredients to the manufacturing process to regulatory processes.

The government should ensure proper pharma manufacturing standards in India.

India deserves the tag ‘pharmacy of the world’. But with that tag, India should understand the global responsibility of ensuring the strictest standards for products.

 

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