Cough syrup exports: Stringent checks a must for quality control - The Tribune India

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Cough syrup exports

Stringent checks a must for quality control

Cough syrup exports

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo



WITH its ‘pharmacy of the world’ image at stake, India has amended the export policy with regard to cough syrups. Consignments would now be cleared for exports only after mandatory certification by government-accredited laboratories. Samples will undergo testing at designated drug labs in Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Chandigarh and other cities. This welcome decision has been necessitated by a series of global alerts regarding cough syrups made in India. Last year, the WHO had raised the alarm after cough syrups manufactured by Sonepat-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals were linked to the death of around 70 children in the Gambia. Later, the death of at least 18 kids in Uzbekistan was attributed to a cough syrup made by Noida-based Marion Biotech. Last month, a cough syrup manufactured by QP Pharmachem in Punjab’s Dera Bassi came under the WHO’s scrutiny.

India’s $41-billion pharmaceutical industry is among the biggest in the world. The country exported cough syrups worth $17.6 billion in the 2022-23 financial year. The WHO’s claims about the presence of ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol — lethal toxins which are used in car brake fluid — in cough syrups made by Indian companies have served as a wake-up call for the Union government. Efforts are being made to plug the loopholes in the regulatory system so that low-quality drugs do not enter the global supply chain. A similar exercise is needed to prevent contaminated or spurious products from reaching the domestic market.

It is imperative to take exemplary and time-bound action against unscrupulous elements who are imperilling the health and lives of unsuspecting people. In its ‘Spurious drugs’ series, The Tribune has been red-flagging violations of norms by drug makers and laxity on the part of the regulatory authorities in the northern states. It is hoped that a wide variety of medications, not just cough syrups, will be subjected to quality checks in order to restore India’s credibility as a pharma hub. 


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