Partnership for Safe Medicines launches Indian initiative

Indian pharmacistThe Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) has launched a partner association in India in what marks a major expansion of its campaign against "the worldwide counterfeit drugs crisis."

PSM - a coalition of patient, physician, pharmacist, university, industry and other professional bodies committed to the safety of prescription drugs - said the launch of the Indian branch was a milestone for the country.

"For the first time in decades, the various stakeholders in India's healthcare delivery system have joined together in a shared and aggressive effort to help protect consumers from the effects of this crisis," said Bejon Misra, trustee of the Consumer Online Foundation and founder of PSM India.

The formation of the unit comes as India is embarking on a project to implement a system of barcodes to help track exported medicines as well as - potentially - the domestic supply chain. Last month, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) set up a committee to examine the feasibility of a national scheme.

Although an official survey coordinated by the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation in 2009 found a counterfeit and substandard medicine rate of just 0.04 per cent, that does not seem to tally with the experience of the pharmaceutical industry.

Figures from the Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI) - which harvests counterfeiting data from major pharmaceutical manufacturers - indicate that in 2009 India was the second most common location for fake drug incidents collated by PSI, after China and ahead of Pakistan. Together China and India were deemed to be source of 64 per cent of all the counterfeit medicines detected in that year.

"The counterfeit drug issue warrants a broad and international response with all stakeholders, especially law enforcement, at the table," said Tom Kubic, president and CEO of PSI, at the launch of the new PSM India organisation.

"Counterfeit drugs are borderless, dangerous and present an equal threat to people of all races, classes and nationalities," said Scott LaGanga, executive director of PSM.

"Since its inception, PSM has worked to cultivate a diverse and global conversation on the need for the public and private sectors to work together and take action to keep them out of drug supplies," he went on, adding: "We believe that India has made important contributions in this area and is poised to play a vital role going forward."

PSM India has already launched a website at to help consumers, industry and government officials access knowledge and share ideas and information on ways to strengthen regulatory processes.

The website lists the objectives of PSM India as follows:

1: To raise public awareness of the harms to patient safely caused by spurious drugs;

2: To inform consumers and distributors of medicines in the community the existence and extent of spurious drug problem;

3: To work collaboratively with the medical community;

4: To educate Indian consumers on the importance of drug quality, how to identify suspected spurious drugs, and what actions to take when encounter a suspected case; and

5: To educate community healthcare practitioners in drugstores and health centres on the problem of spurious drugs and what role they can play to lessen the problem.

Related articles:

India looks at implementing national barcoding system

India looks to technology to secure generic drug exports

GS1 and India develop tracking-based recall system

Survey measures substandard medicines from Indian traders

India makes arrests in national swoop on illegal medicines

Indian counterfeit survey 'flawed'?

Indian survey 'finds few counterfeits'


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