Spurious drugs scam: HC seeks ATR against pharma companies

Srinagar: The J&K High Court has directed government to file action taken report (ATR) against pharmaceutical companies found by drug testing laboratories to have manufactured, marketed and supplied spurious drugs in Jammu and Kashmir.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Justices Hasnain Massodi and Dhiraj Singh Thakur directed the government to file the report within two weeks based on the finding about 156 samples by Central Drug Laboratory (CDL) Kolkata and Regional Drug Testing Laboratory (RDTL) Chandigarh.
The samples were drawn by Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) from J&K in April last year following surfacing of the drug scam involving supply of spurious drugs to hospitals and other establishments in the state.
Out of these samples, 110 were taken from Kashmir and rest from Jammu. 49 samples were handed over to CDL Kolkata and the remaining 107 to RDTL Chandigarh.
Subsequently, 20 samples (out of 49 sent to CDL Kolkata) were declared misbranded while only 7 samples out of 107 sent to RDTL Chandigarh were found to be substandard.
In another direction, the bench asked government to file a comprehensive status report regarding steps taken to make Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940 operational on ground.
In this behalf, the bench directed government to indicate number of Drug Inspectors appointed and in place as on date, number of posts lying vacant or unfilled, particulars of the Drug Inspectors as on date holding charge of more than one area, the number of samples taken by Drug Inspectors from July 1, 2013 and the results of analysis, steps taken for setting up Drug analysis Laboratories at Srinagar and Jammu besides the steps taken to implement the recommendations of the Committee constituted by the government of India and adopted by the state government for controlling the menace of spurious and adulterated drugs. The committee had submitted its report to government of India in November 2003.
On last date of hearing, the state government informed the court that in order to implement the recommendations by the committee, it has already adopted drug policy.
The drug policy was as adopted by government (vide order N0.8O-HME of 2012) on February 2, 2012 to ensure quality, safe and efficacious medicinal preparations in the market and government institutions at affordable prices.
It specifies that sale, storage, use of drugs and record keeping (specified under schedule X of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940) shall be supervised and monitored by inspectorate working under Drug and Food Control Organization, J&K .
“Special checking squads under the leadership of Deputy Controllers will be constituted to undertake periodic inspections in this regard,” reads the policy.
Besides, intelligence-cum-legal cell shall be established in the office of Drug and Food Control Organization to facilitate busting of spurious drug rackets and their prompt prosecution.
It also calls for providing incentives to informers giving information about spurious drugs and rationalizing number of drug license.
In another direction, court directed government to file action taken on the report submitted by Farooq Ahmad Peer regarding departmental inquiry against all the delinquent officers involved in purchase of the spurious drugs.
The court was hearing the PIL filed by president of Doctors Association Kashmir through its president Dr Nisar-ul Hassan through advocate Bhat Fayaz.
The PIL was filed in the aftermath of drug scam involving supply of spurious drugs to hospitals in the state and seeks impartial and time-bound probe into entire scam and nabbing culprits involved in the commission of ‘heinous act’ among five other demands including constitution of an expert committee to look into condition of patients who were administered the spurious drug in order to compensate for the wrongful acts of the respondents.