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India becomes a hub for fake/spurious medicines/Blockchain technology is coming to India to help in combat on fake medicines in India :

Blockchain technology is coming to India to help in combat on fake medicines in India

NEW DELHI, 01 Aug 2018: Blockchain technology is coming to India to help in combat on fake/Spurious and Counterfeit medicines in India. What is blockchain?- It is virtual register to keep transaction between users.all the transaction related data will saved inside blocks and it can creates infinite chain of data blocks that can trace and verify all the transaction.

India becomes a hub for fake/spurious medicines

New Delhi: Expert view point on fake, spurious and counterfeit medicines in India. Private investigator Suresh Sati rattled off the popular brand names listed on the boxes of cough syrup, supplements, vitamins and painkillers sprawled across the desk and shelves in his basement office.

"They look real, but all these are fakes," said Sati, head of a New Delhi-based agency that helps police conduct raids against Spurious-medicines syndicates across the country. "A regular customer cannot make out if it is fake or spurious medicines... The biggest giveaway is when someone is selling medicines very cheap. It is almost always fake or spurious."

Experts say the global fake-drug industry, worth about $90 billion, causes the deaths of almost 1 million people a year and there are lots of drug incidences in India which is contributing to a rise in drug resistance.

Estimates vary on the number of these drugs made in India. Government says that 0.4 percent of the country's medicines are spurious medicines in India and that substandard drugs account for about 8 percent. But independent estimates range from 12 to 25 percent.

Indian officials say the clandestine industry has hurt the image of India's booming pharmaceutical industry and its exports, worth $8.5 billion a year, mostly to African and Latin American countries.

To clamp down on the illegal trade, the health ministry launched a reward program this year offering $55,000 to those who provide information about fake-drug syndicates.

Last year, the ministry also strengthened its drug law to speed up court trials. Suspects found guilty of manufacturing and selling fake drugs can be sentenced to life in prison.

The number of people arrested for manufacturing and selling fake drugs in Indiarose from 12 in 2006 to 147 last year, and drugs worth about $6.5 million were seized over this period.

"It is very difficult to dismantle the entire operation," Sati said. "When we bust one operation, two more spring up elsewhere. Convictions are rare."

The tricks of the trade include sticking fraudulent labels on expired products, filling vials with water, stuffing small amounts of real ingredients in packages of popular licensed brands and putting chalk power in medicine packets.

But more than the concern for public safety, officials here have been particularly alarmed about recent incidents that discredit India's image abroad.

In June, officials at Nigeria's Abuja airport caught a shipment of fake antibiotics, containing no active ingredients, with a "Made in India" label.

Nigerian investigators later said that a Chinese company shipped the drugs via Frankfurt. In a similar incident last year, a shipment of fake anti-malaria drugs from China arrived in Nigeria with an Indian tag.

Last year, Sri Lanka banned imports from four Indian companies after officials discovered substandard medicine in shipments.

Over the years, drug companies have used holograms or embossed their logo on the packaging to protect their brands, but these have also been counterfeited in India.

One company, MSN Labs, is using a technology developed by U.S.-based start-up firm PharmaSecure that allows consumers to check the authenticity of medicines by sending in a text message of the code written on them.

But many Indian companies are "apprehensive of pursuing the cases for fear of bad publicity and possible loss of confidence among consumers," said Barun Mitra, director of the New Delhi-based think tank Liberty Institute.

Co-writing a report on a recent survey, Mitra said that 12 percent of sampled drugs from the capital's pharmacies were substandard. "We are behaving like ostriches with our heads in the sand and pretending that nothing is amiss even as the problem keeps growing and affecting Indian patients."

On a recent morning in the northern city of Varanasi, a young man named Ashish waited for a shipment of painkillers and postpartum pills to arrive by train.

He said his order of pills that controlled postpartum bleeding contained chalk powder but came with the brand name Methergine in a Novartis package.

The painkiller had insufficient ingredients and carried a Bidanzen Forte label inside a knockoff GlaxoSmithKline package.

"There is a lot of profit in this," said Ashish, 28, describing the extent of counterfeit drugs in Varanasi. He declined to give his surname because his operation is illegal.

"I do not think about right or wrong," he said. "I am not killing anybody. The worst is that these medicines will not show any result and the patient may have to check into a hospital."