Taking antibiotics is like eating chocolates in Nepal. Sounds bitter right. So is the case with any other class of medicines. And how about popping up some white/grey or any other odourless compounds to cure our ailments in the name of medicine.That’s counterfiet medicine for you.
Drugs that either lack the active ingredient or contains active ingredient in high doses along with other contaminants like leadpaint,poison,etc.are often regarded as counterfiet/fake medicines.These drugs are often substandard and doesn’t stand up to the standard as provided by FDA. These medicines are not registered and licensed to be sold in market. These counterfiets medicines have established like a parasite,occupying most of the market and undoubtedly weakening the national health status.
In country where companies producing drugs are limited and cannot fulfill the demand of public, drugs import is a must which is the leading cause for this problem of counterfeit drugs. Other factors being open border, drug trafficking, poor drug regulation act, poor and irregular monitoring, poor health facilities and ignorance adding fuel to the problem.
The problem of counterfeit drugs is global in nature. Although it is difficult to obtain precise figures, estimates put counterfeits at more than 10 percent of the global medicines market. It is known to affect both developed and developing countries. Two of the world’s leading producers of counterfeit pharmaceuticals are Nepal’s neighbors to the north and south. The government’s regulation only allows companies certified by WHO’s Good Manufacturing Practice(GMP)to bring medicines into Nepal.The DDA provides licenses to these companies after auditing them and also sends out inspection team.
According to a data of 2004,there are 272Indian and 38 domestic companies registered with the government,selling about 8,000 brands of medicine. Only two Chinese manufacturers were registered with the DDA, and the threat of fake Chinese medicines is said to be less because most doctors prescribe Indian brand sand the Chinese ones are less in demand.
While counterfeits of well-known brands contain no ingredients of the original product, substandard drugs are either diluted or don’t meet the standards prescribed in a country’s pharmacopoeia.Adulteration,leaking and medicines past expiry dates or with the wrong proportion of ingredients are some of the reasons why drugs are substandard. Fake and substandard medicines are widely sold in the Nepali market, but regulators, traders and the public don’t seem to realise the enormity of the problem.
A report published by US embassy Nepal showed that more than 7,000 people lose their lives each year due to counterfiet drugs. Also these drugs are available in form of common antibiotics like amoxycill into drugs for treating cancer,diabetes,high blood pressure,parasitic infections,etc.
Counterfiet medicines are difficult to differentiate from genuine medicines unless laboratory examination is carried out. However, one can notice the change in texture, size, colour and side effects if closely observed.FAO encourages pharmaceuticals companies to use physical-chemical identifiers (PCID) in solid oral dosage forms that identify and authenticate the drug product of dosage form. Examples include inks, flavors, and chemical tags that are detectable analytically using techniques such as infrared,ultraviolet,and fluorescence detectors or visually using magnification.