'Reward for whistle blowers'

 Responding to a debate in the Rajya Sabha, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said he would introduce a whistle blower policy to attract involvement of the public to provide information on any kind of unlawful activity in the manufacture of drugs. The proposed policy, he said, would entitle the informer for a monetary reward.

Sources told Deccan Herald that the reward would be 20 per cent of the total cost of consignment seized but it should not exceed Rs 25 lakh.

Besides drugs, revelation of the spurious drugs will incorporate cosmetics and medical devices.

For the government and the Central Drug Standards Control Organisation officials the maximum reward would be Rs 5 lakh for one case and Rs 30 lakh for the person’s entire career.

While 25 per cent of the reward will be given after the charge sheet is filed in the court, another 25 per cent will be disbursed after the case is disposed off in government’s favour.

The rest will be given to the whistle blower after the case is finally settled with no appeal, sources said.

Azad said an amendment to the Drugs and Cosmetics act 2008 would soon be brought for creating a Central Drug Authority. This would pave the way for a robust regulatory mechanism.

The health ministry has undertaken a countrywide survey to assess the extent of spurious and counterfeit drugs as currently there is no reliable data on the extent of the spurious drug problem.

The Drugs and Cosmetics Act was amended last year providing for stricter penalties for spurious drug manufacturers’ offences. The maximum penalty goes up to life imprisonment and fine of Rs 10 lakh or three times the value of confiscated goods whichever is more. Some of the offences under the amended act are cognizable and non-bailable, he said, adding special designated courts would be set up for speedier trial.

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