The lingering conflict in J&K has masked many things that have gone wrong in our society and system. One such aspect is the easy availability of the spurious and sub-standard drugs in the state. Though this issue has recurrently risen to the surface, and got some media attention, little has been done to address it. We can only hope that the government now does take effective steps to stop the free-run of the J&K’s pharma space by the little known pharma companies. This existence of a spurious drugs industry has been a common knowledge in our society, but a decisive government action against the menace hasn’t been forthcoming.
The question now is whether government will initiate a punitive action that hits at the root of the problem. And if at all it does, what kind of action would work best against the problem. The problem is very local and at the same time international in its dimensions. It is also very complex. In Kashmir, the situation has gotten murkier over the years. Scores of pharma companies, many of them unknown and spurious are battling for market share in the state. And for this purpose they hire the services of doctors. While one could afford to overlook the practice if this competition for market space was only between quality pharma companies, it is criminal do so in the kind of situation prevailing in the state. Kashmir, as was pointed out some years ago by India’s leading cardiologist Naresh Trehan at a seminar in Kashmir, has become the hub of the spurious pharma companies in the country.
Now the question is who helps these companies sell their produce in the state? For what price and to what cost? This is something that needs serious scrutiny. There is a broad set of measures that are needed, beginning with sensitization of the doctors and patients alike about the state of affairs. More than the government having to crack the whip which obviously will lead to its own complications, it is incumbent upon doctors themselves – heads of institutions and the doctors associations – to initiate self-correcting measures. And government on its part needs to act against the sub-standard and obscure drug companies which have taken over the market in the state. We need the Drug Controller Department to hold itself and these companies to account.