One reason why healthcare in the country is still struggling is because, as recent studies have found out, there are a lot of substandard medicines that are flooding the market. This leads to major implications on one’s health.

A significant amount of the country’s health expenditure namely 70% – 77% is spent on medicines alone. This is why it is important to make sure you get your hands on quality medication that will not worsen your health or have any adverse effects.

Drawbacks of substandard drugs

All drugs can have negative effects on one’s health if not taken according to one’s prescription. However, when you consume substandard drugs, you let the disease run a longer course as these drugs are ineffective in battling the disease. Thus you may even need another prescription while treating the illness. Substandard drugs are further believed to provide anti-bacterial resistance thus making the body an easy target for bacteria

Shocking statistics that you should be aware of

  • According to the World Health Organization, India contributes 35% of counterfeit drugs to the global scene.
  • About 25% of the medicines that hit the Indian market are either counterfeit, fake or substandard, according to a report published in 2014 by ASSOCHAM
  • Although India consumes 383 medicines per year, the details about where they are manufactured are largely unavailable. There is no record of the licensed manufacturers of these drugs. This is probably the biggest failure on the part of the government.

Statistics released by the Central Drug Standard Control Organization show that about 4.5% of the drugs that are being sold in the Indian market are substandard.

Apart from drugs that do not meet the quality requirements, there is also the concern of spurious medicines, which are imitations of popular branded drugs, making the rounds. The bad part about these is that they do not usually have the same ingredients as the actual drugs and thus can even be fatal. 0.11% of spurious drugs are present in the market according to a study conducted by the CDSCO.

Be vigilant when buying drugs

If you thought you could rely on your regular drugs, you were wrong. After testing samples of a popular painkiller, diclofenac sodium, it was found that routinely prescribed drugs, more often than others, failed to meet the standard quality requirements.

In 2016, the International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences also conducted a study on the amoxicillin trihydrate, a fast-moving antibiotic and the results were the same.

However, it is sad to note that this isn’t restricted to smaller companies. Drugs by reputed companies are also failing to meet the requirements despite people paying extra money for them, believing they are better.

Thus one must remember, all tablets should have 90% to 110% of the active ingredient. However, the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission does offer a 5% grace margin on that limit. Although there has been a decline in the presence of substandard drugs in the market, from 9% in 1990 to 4.5% in recent years this is still a matter of concern.

The only solution is to come out with technology that will allow patients to verify the quality of medicines they buy. Also, near-infrared spectroscopy will allow companies to filter numerous medicines in just a few minutes. This will make it easier for organizations to keep substandard drugs off the streets.