MOSCOW, November 19 (Sputnik) — The quality of Indian medicine has raised concerns among major drug importers after the recent death of 13 women, who were allegedly given antibiotics contaminated with rat poison, AFP reported on Wednesday.
“This reflects on the image of the country," said D.G. Shah, secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, adding that the incident is a wake-up call and should be taken seriously.
India’s drug exports account for $15 billion a year. Its pharmaceutical products are exported to a large number of countries, with India being among the top manufacturers of medicine worldwide, according to the website Pharmaceutical Drug Manufacturers.
The women reportedly died after undergoing sterilization surgery in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. According to the New York Times, the ciprofloxacin antibiotics they were given contained the chemical zinc phosphide, which can cause severe poisoning and result in death.
A poll carried out by Indian officials among pharmaceutical companies in 2009 estimated that about 0.5% of drugs sold were low-quality or tainted. A 2010 survey of New Delhi drug stores initiated by non-governmental organizations, however, revealed that the situation was far more serious, as 12% of drugs that were tested didn’t comply with basic health standards, according to AFP.
In the first half of 2014, Indian officials announced they would undertake the relevant regulatory measures, such as enhanced border check-ups, new testing labs at ports as well as regular investigations of pharmaceutical manufacturers to control quality of drug exports. However, the situation has mainly improved only in the larger Indian states, where all of data about the medicine that is produced can be found online.