A range of pediatric drugs that were manufactured in India is still being blamed for the deaths of hundreds of children from around the world.
Interestingly, this same range of fatal pediatric medicines from India is currently in use at many hospitals and healthcare facilities in Guyana.
However, there has never been any state-sanctioned investigation of the pediatric drugs in Guyana to determine whether they are still safe to use here, or if any infant deaths could be attributed to the use of any one of the drugs, or any combination of the drugs.
The infant death spells which had started at a Kashmir Hospital a few years back has killed several hundred children, but has not subsided, since medical officials in several countries mainly across Africa and Asia are still complaining.
The World Health Organization and the United States has since agreed that India has a serious problem with the quality of many of its medicines.
As a matter of fact, the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has expressed its wariness at several major Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers who have become notorious for exporting adulterated and low-quality versions of many major drugs that are in use today.
As a result, many of those companies are currently under the microscope of US investigators who are also looking at the quality of drugs that they are exporting to other countries.
One of those pharmaceutical companies is Ranbaxy, who was lashed with a half a billion (US) dollars fine as a result of their continued penchant for skulduggery.
From repeatedly lying to the FDA, to running a medicine packaging plant that is overrun with flies, Ranbaxy has a long rap-sheet when it comes to crooked pharmaceutical dealings.
Interestingly, Ranbaxy is one of the largest suppliers of medicines from India to Guyana.
At least two local private hospitals and a popular pharmaceutical importer stocks more than 80% of their drugs from the same company, which often exports under many of its various company brands.
Already, there have been many previous reports which had established that at least 35% of the drugs that are imported into Guyana are fake.
And with larger companies in India now exporting weaker and adulterated versions of various drugs to Guyana, it is now believed that just around 70% of the drugs imported from India are adulterated. An issue that will certainly put the nation’s health at risk.
For example, a US FDA test of several antibiotics tablets that were imported from India to Guyana, showed that the drugs were weak and medically useless in many instances.
The same pattern seems to be the case for many other classes of medicines.
It is widely believed that the United States FDA had passed on critical information to Guyanese authorities regarding the US’s suspicions that at least two hospitals and another pharmaceutical importer may be deliberately importing adulterated drugs from India.
However, a recent court ruling in favor of a local private hospital that was suspected of importing substandard medicine from India has established how difficult it is to effectively regulate a sector that has its fingers on the pulse of many politicians and industry stakeholders who may have the power to regulate them.
A usually reliable source at the US FDA has since told the Guyana Guardian that they are currently compiling a list of black-market pharmaceutical importers in Guyana who may be profiting from the handling of dirty medicine.
While not divulging what the United States intended to do with that information, she reiterated that those Guyanese agencies such as the Food and Drug Department may probably be too weak, understaffed, and unsupported by modern legislation to confront the problem.
But on the other hand, while India may have its share of crooked medicine manufacturers, the FDA agrees that a greater percentage of pharmaceutical plants in India have satisfied their requirements.
Similarly, many Indian pharmaceutical executives are of the view that the media are not often fair to the country’s 15 billion dollars per year industry.
For them, creating the impression that most of the medicines that are imported from India are substandard, is totally wrong and out of place.
“Yes, stronger enforcement is needed. But to say that India is overrun by counterfeits is unjustified, says Satish Reddy, President of India’s Pharmaceutical Alliance.