Low quality drugs are a bigger challenge for India than counterfeits

The US government has blamed India for being a hub of counterfeit drugs globally. However, for pharma companies in India low-quality drugs are a bigger threat than fake drugs.

As per the US Trade Representative office’s annual report on IP protection and review of markets notorious for privacy and counterfeiting, 20% of all drugs sold in the Indian market are counterfeit. On the contrary, India has shunned the report claiming it is an attack on its capability to supply cheap generic drugs.

Recent surveys show that the proportion of cheap or substandard drugs at about 3 per cent of the overall drugs sold, while about 0.28% were found to be counterfeit. This hints toward the scenario that India has a bigger problem of cheap quality drugs which is overshadowed by the focus on controlling the production of duplicate ones.

According to a report released by the World Health Organization in 2017, about 10.5 per cent of medicines sold in low and middle-income countries, including India, are substandard and falsified.

The surveys and reports point the need for handling of the problem of substandard and fake drugs with a heavy hand, as low-cost medicines manufactured in the country should not end up being labelled as being low in quality.