Researchers find no evidence of counterfeiting in India's Chennai

Indian flag on wallIndian and Canadian researchers found no evidence of falsification of medicines in a sampling study carried out in the city of Chennai, though more than 40 per cent of drugs were substandard.

"There is still surprisingly little basic research data to support widely-repeated claims about the prevalence of drug counterfeiting," according to the researchers, from Children's and Women's Hospital in Vancouver and Apollo Hospital in Chennai.

"The quality of at least some anti-infective drugs in Chennai is below commonly accepted standards but we found no evidence of criminal counterfeiting," they write in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics (August 2011).

The team divided the city of Chennai into ten areas, selecting 10 outlets selling medicines from each. Samples of three anti-infective drugs - artesunate for malaria and the antibacterials ciprofloxacin and rifampicin - were bought from each of the 100 outlets and analysed using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) techniques.

The drugs were tested for a range of parameters developed by the researchers looking at manufacturing standards, counterfeiting, decomposition, poor quality control and adulteration.

Ciprofloxacin samples stood up well to the testing, although the quality range for artesunate and rifampicin was much broader. Overall, 43 per cent of all the samples tested fell below the widely accepted manufacturing range of 90 to 110 per cent of the stated content, but no sample fell below 50 per cent of the stated dose.

"Poor drug quality was most likely due to decomposition during storage or poor manufacturing standards," conclude the authors.

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