Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 21
A key drug, without any active ingredient in it, which is meant to maintain pregnancy in both human beings and animals, has been making inroads in the state’s drug market. This spurious drug, hydroxyprogestrone caproate injection, used in different potencies in humans and animals to ensure that they do not abort, is now under close watch of the state’s health authorities.
Though the drug is not used in case of each pregnancy, it is widely used (in both humans and animals) wherever the chances of pregnancy not completing its full term are suspected by the doctor. In humans, when required, the potency of the drug is much lower than potency injected to carrying animals. While the spurious injection of hydroxyprogestrone caproate meant for human use has been found during raids in Amritsar and Sangrur two months ago, the spurious drug meant for veterinary use was first found in Patiala last week, following which raids have been conducted across the state.
The health authorities have now started conducting random search and seizure operations to get hold of stocks of the drug and check them. Batches of the medicine have been collected from different retailers in Patiala, Mansa, Bathinda and Mohali, and sent to the laboratory for verification. The final report on the potency of these injections is expected in this week, following which the health authorities will start initiating legal action.
Interestingly, the address of these drug manufacturers, found on the packing of these injections, have been found fake. After batches of hydroxyprogestrone caproate were seized by officials of the state Drug Control Department, officials went to conduct a search at the address of manufacturer. There they found that the unit had been locked up several years ago and was up for sale.
This has left the authorities flummoxed on the surreptitious way in which the drug has entered into the market. Officials in the Drug Control Department have told The Tribune that most chemists from whom the drugs have been seized did not have any bills from suppliers. This has firmed up the authorities’ opinion that such batches of drugs are all spurious - without any active ingredient.
“The inquiry is at a preliminary stage. Once we got information about the spurious drug invading the market, we acted promptly and seized the drugs. The zonal licensing authorities were asked to conduct raids and seize suspected batches,” said Pradeep Mattoo, State Drug Controller.
Interestingly, it was thanks to the close monitoring of the market by the state’s drug manufacturers that the health authorities were alerted. Injections of this drug generally range between Rs 50- Rs 55 per dose. However, the spurious injection doses when they reached the market started selling for Rs 10-Rs12 per dose. “Since the cost of the active ingredient in the injection itself is Rs 35, we were surprised at how this was being sold at such low cost. On suspicion, we bought the drug and tested it in our laboratories. The tests proved that these drugs were duds - had no active ingredient at all,” said a Mohali-based drug manufacturer, requesting anonymity. The matter was then taken up by the Punjab Drug Manufacturers Association with the state health authorities.
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