Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, incidents of substandard and falsified (SF) medical products increased nearly 47% between 2020 and 2021, according to a report by the Association of Authentication Solution Providers ( ASPA), a non-profit organization that deals with anti-counterfeiting awareness.
The report said the incidents found were mostly related to medical products related to COVID-19, including vaccines, drugs, COVID test kits, antibiotics, face masks and disinfectants. During the peak of COVID-19, incidents of SF medical products were seen in 23 out of 29 states and 7 union territories of India.
“Criminals have seen the pandemic crisis as an opportunity to sell more and more substandard and falsified medical products, taking advantage of the vulnerability of people in need. The huge negative impact of the huge increase in circulation counterfeit medicines and essential medical products on the The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has gone almost unnoticed.It is unfortunate that criminals manufacture ineffective or harmful products in packages that appear identical to the genuine products, which makes them difficult to detect,” said Nakul Pasricha, ASPA President.
“The circulation and use of these SF medical products violates the right to health and slows down the pace of providing the quality health services that people deserve. It is high time to act firmly to stem this threat. If preventive measures are taken now, we will be in a better position to provide effective healthcare to patients,” Pasricha added.
Despite the guidelines, the circulation of SF medical products has been an under/under-treated problem in India. The government has recently taken the decision to make QR codes on Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) mandatory. APIs are the main raw materials used in the manufacture of medicines – capsules, tablets, syrups and others.
National authentication and traceability projects have seen an international trend in recent years, with China, Brazil, Turkey, the United States and the EU being the pioneers in this field. It has helped these countries reduce the parallel market in various industries, improve tax collection, and significantly reduce business losses from counterfeit products and illegal trade. India should also implement these measures in other sectors to join the league of advanced digital economies, observes the report.
Despite the Union government’s efforts to deliver real coronavirus vaccines through transparent procurement and procurement systems and the technology-backed CoWin administration platform, the global monitoring and surveillance system The World Health Organization (WHO) control for substandard and counterfeit medical products in August 2021 had also identified fake versions of the COVID-19 Covishield vaccine in India and Uganda. The apex global public health agency also this month reported the circulation of a fake drug Remdisvir used for the management of COVID-19.
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