Affordable drugs don't mean spurious: Azad tells US

Affordable drugs don't mean spurious: Azad tells US

Against the backdrop of US actions against Indian pharma exports, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today did some plainspeak with the head of American drug regulator, asserting that Indian drugs should not be treated as spurious just because they are affordable.

Azad's assertion came when he met US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg who conveyed concerns over the issue of quality control.

She said there is a huge expectation and dependence of public on the regulator to ensure the quality of what they consume through drugs and food.

Responding, Azad said, "being affordable should not mean they are cheap and spurious".Emphasising India's commitment to stringent regulatory mechanism, he said it has taken measures for capacity building, strengthening laboratories and more transparency.

He added that punishment up to life imprisonment is prescribed for those involved in making and selling spurious drugs.

The USFDA has taken a series of actions against Indian pharmaceutical firms, restricting their shipments to the US, their largest export market.

The US health regulator on January 23 banned the import of products manufactured by Ranbaxy Laboratories at its plant at Toansa. This was the company's fourth plant to face regulatory action from the USFDA, after Mohali, Paonta Sahib and Dewas plants.

During the meeting between Azad and Hamburg, the two countries signed a Statement of Intent on Cooperation in the Field of Medical Products, which seeks sharing of information about lack of compliance with accepted current good manufacturing, clinial and laboratory practices medical or cosmetics company in one another's country.

It also intends informing the respective regulatory authorities before undertaking inspections so that host-country inspectors may join inspections as observers. 

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