Punish the Death Merchants by MOHD. ZEYAUL HAQUE (JULY 23, 2007)

Not a single day passes without the discovery of a fake pharmaceutical products racket. Nobody knows what happens to the merchants of death manufacturing fake medicines or the medical store owners peddling them. Newspapers which expose such rackets fall silent after a couple of days. They have other events to follow, other news to report.

The pervasive official corruption which promotes and sustains such deadly business also provides escape routes to the "busted" drug racketeers. Quite often these people sell counterfeit versions of costly life-saving drugs. No wonder so many of our people die even though there is no apparent reason for death as they are on such crucial drugs which do otherwise work.

The racketeers are so emboldened that they fill capsules with sattu and sell them as Vitamin B Complex, while capsules filled with chalk powder are sold as Ampicillin. If you are not feeling reasonably energetic after popping so many B Complex capsules and five days on Ampicillin does not get you rid of your small little infection then you are likely to be a victim of this mafia.

These people are freely making and selling drugs under some big names like Ranbaxy. Poor Ranbaxy fellows sitting in Delhi have no way of knowing that racketeers are using their brand name on fake drugs being manufactured in nearby Meerut. They come to know only after such crime is exposed. Ranbaxy is just one of the big names being misused.

If that is what is happening in and around the national capital then imagine what must be going on in state capitals, district towns, mofussils and casbahs. At this rate you can be sure that you are more likely to buy a fake medicine than a genuine one. People who go to Europe or America, or even Dubai and Saudi Arabia, claim that over-the-counter products like Paracetamol or multivitamins bought there work better than the same products manufactured in India under the same brand names do. This may not be the medical superstition of the rich, but a fact of life.

Ever wondered what all those drug inspectors are doing besides collecting their commission from everyone in the pharmaceutical industry? We are told that we don’t have enough drug inspectors, but nobody says that the existing ones should do their work honestly. If the Indian state wants that slogans like India Rising and India Shining do not become a joke it should get serious about bringing these merchants of death to book and stop playing with people’s lives.

Mohd. Zeyaul Haque


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