The Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) unveiled its whistleblower reward scheme – which also covers medical devices and cosmetics – last night, explaining that the idea is to encourage people to report the production of fake pharmaceuticals.
“Since spurious or fake drugs are a sensitive issue affecting the health of the citizens as well as the prestige of the country’s pharmaceutical trade interests, there is a sense of urgency in taking on the menace on priority basis” said the regulator, adding that public participation would aid these efforts.
“With this aim in view, a scheme has been devised by the Central Government for giving monetary rewards to the whistleblowers who can take risk of providing the information about the perpetrators of such crime.”
Rewards of 20% of the total value of any drugs seized as a result of information – up to a maximum of INR2.5m ($4154) - are on offer to members of the public, while government officials and CDSCO offers who report fakes could earn up to INR3m during their careers.
The scheme aims to make sure that informants do not “turn hostile” during any resulting trials by providing 25% of the reward upfront, 25% when they give evidence in court and the remainder if the accused is found guilty.
The CDSCO said: “In the fight against the menace of spurious or fake drugs, cost of such social participation will be minimal given the proportion of damage inflicted by the perpetrators of the crime on the health of the society and the economic progress of the country.”
International fakes labelled as “made in India?”
The CDSCO also discussed the source of fake drugs and suggested that part of the problem is the desire of unspecified “international” vested interested to tarnish the reputation of India’s drug industry.
“The country’s hold on international pharmaceutical market, especially the status enjoyed by it in providing high quality drugs on cheapest prices invited some unhealthy competition from various quarters. Internationally, the vested interests are supplying spurious medicines manufactured by them but with ‘Made in India’ label.”
The CDSCO did not provide any more details of the allegations or respond to a request for more information.
Temptations resulting from size of India’s drug industry – which is currently the world’s third largest supplier of APIs and supplier of around 8% of all finished dosage forms globally – is also part of the problem according to the CDSCO.
“The volume of the pharmaceutical market and stakes involved in it makes it easy for the people to fall prey to the lures of money and indulge in various malpractices. The manufacture and sale of spurious drugs is a clandestine activity generally indulged in by anti-social elements and carried out by unlicensed manufacturers which exploit the confidence enjoyed by certain fast selling drugs by making their imitations.”