Some Facts: Pill_opens

  • Spurious or fake pharmaceutical drugs (Medicines) are becoming a rising concern in the World.
  • WHO (World Health Organisation) defines a spurious drug as “a medicine, which is deliberately and fraudulently mislabelled with respect to identity and/or source. Counterfeiting can apply to both branded and generic products and counterfeit products may include products with the correct ingredients or with the wrong ingredients, without active ingredients, with insufficient active ingredients or with fake packaging.” 1
  • 35% of the world’s spurious medicines come from India 2
  • Drugs with insufficient active ingredients such as Antibiotics are leading to the rise of antibiotic resistant strains of microbes, known as superbugs. Some organisms such as MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus are today the leading cause of hospital acquired infections.
  • A study estimated that in 2005, there were more than 18,000 deaths due to invasive MRSA in the United States 3
  • The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has called for all Pharmaceutical drugs, Biological products like blood ,etc. To be barcoded. 4
  • Japan calls for similar measures 5
  • India has no such policy provisions in the near future
  • Bar coding and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) are being considered to prevent counterfeiting in the US and EU.

I was randomly scanning the news one afternoon when I came across some disturbing Statistics. The newspaper claimed that around 35% of the world’s fake pharmaceutical drugs came from India. The European Union, the US and Japan are seriously concerned about the increasing numbers of fake drugs entering organized set-ups such as Hospitals. Now, why should a biotechnologist be concerned about fake drugs? Well, there is a humanitarian concern, of course. Fake drugs are not like pirated movies or books. These drugs can cause serious harm to patients who depend on life-saving drugs for existence; these medicines can kill! Apart from this there is one area that is troubling epidemiologists, drug developers, Medical fraternity and researchers alike. That is, the emergence of Antibiotic resistant strains of deadly bacteria. These organisms, now known as Superbugs, are the cause of some of the most deadly Hospital acquired (Nosocomial) infections. One well-cited example is that of Staphylococcus aureus a gram positive coccus that appears like a bunch of grapes, it is a common cause of Skin ailments, suppurative infections of burns and wounds and Toxic shock syndrome (TSS). There was a time when antibiotics of the penicillin family could be used to cure these infections. However, in recent time, to our growing horror we have seen emergence of a strain of S. aureus that is resistant to the most strong of all drugs and that is methicillin. This organism that is now known as MRSA, (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is responsible for around 18,000 deaths in the US, (Statistics 2005). There are many such organisms that have emerged in the recent past.

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