Menace Of Spurious Medicines Is Growing

By: Bilal Hussain

Spurious medicines are threatening the healthcare systems around the world. The growth in the pharmaceutical industry, witnessed tremendous rise in drug counterfeiting in late twentieth century. So far, the trade in fake drugs has grown into a global industry worth trillions of rupees.

In Pakistan, a fake drug comes under the meaning of spurious drugs. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also identified Pakistan in those 13 countries where counterfeiting is on rise. A drug is considered counterfeited if it does not contain labeled ingredients of curative potential.

These medicines are manufactured maliciously, cheaply mimicking genuine products for profits. Many fake drugs are dummies deliberately created to resemble genuine products.

According to WHO, nearly all types of drugs have been counterfeited, from medicines for the treatment of life threatening condition to inexpensive version of painkillers and sleeping pills?

Their extended use may result in adverse reactions, treatment resistance and failure, various disabilities and even deaths in extreme side-effects.

In Pakistan, spurious drugs have proliferated into national distribution channels. Harmful medicines are being sold in the day light at local markets, groceries, unlicensed medical stores and health clinics.

The rural areas are especially prone to transactions in spurious medicines as there are only few hospitals present in the rural areas without any kind of emergency or other critical facilities available. All these circumstances compel people to buy drugs in non-regulated outlets, such as markets, which are more likely to trade in counterfeits, appealing to poor who fall an easy prey to quacks.

Sindh province has a great ratio of pregnant women and womenfolk who die premature death due to fake medicines and lake of facilities in the hospitals in villages.

A key challenge to tackling counterfeiting lies in the lack of quantitative data. In most instances of the availability of a fake drug, the problem is often under-reported. In Pakistan, as the intensity and range of problem is high, timely exchange of information and co-ordination is needed. Secondly, surveillance system needs to be tightened with responsible monitoring of the potential loopholes in medicines trade cycle-- from the manufacturer to wholesalers, distributors, retailers and then to end users.

Preventive measures are being enacted by executive authorities; however, the responsibility to tackle the issue does not only lie with the government. All stakeholders must be involved and should contribute their part against the menace.