India, Africa to check fake drug menace

Medicines from China being off-loaded as Indian products in Ghana, South Africa and Ivory Coast

Keen to make it sure that mischief by some pharmaceutical companies based in China does not have any adverse impact on India’s growing business interests in Africa, New Delhi took up the issue with Beijing and requested it to take action against the fake drug makers.

“The health of our brothers and sisters in Africa are as important for the Indian government as that of our own citizens,” said Gurjit Singh, Joint Secretary in the East and Southern Africa Division of the Ministry of External Affairs. “It is now clear that the fake drugs being sold in Africa with ‘Made in India’ tag are not produced in India, but elsewhere,” he said.

Singh did not specify in which country the fake medicines were actually being produced. But probes by drug controlling authorities in Nigeria and other African countries over the past few years proved that the counterfeit medicines were in fact produced in China.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control of Nigeria in 2009 seized a large consignment of counterfeit anti-malarial generic medicines with “Made in India” labels and later found that the fake drugs had in fact been produced in China.  
New Delhi suspects that Chinese companies were marketing fake drugs with “Made in India” tags in order to malign the image of the Indian pharmaceutical companies in the African continent.

Market share
Sources said  the Centre had been receiving information about fake drugs from China being off-loaded as Indian drugs in countries like Ghana, South Africa and Ivory Coast in general, where India had a substantial market share. But the report from Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control was the first confirmation, which New Delhi followed up by lodging a strong protest with Beijing.
To counter the efforts to malign the image of Indian drug companies in Africa, New Delhi is embarking on a Brand India promotion campaign in the continent and sending a high-level delegation to the African countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya on March 28 next.

The delegation, according to the sources, will comprise drug regulators and key officials from the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Health, in addition to the representatives from pharmaceutical industries and it will tour the African countries till April 10.
The Ministry of Commerce in association with the Indian Missions in those countries would also hold exhibitions, conferences and buyer-seller meets to dispel doubts about Indian pharmaceuticals.

The African nations are all potentially growing market for the pharmaceutical industry of India, with export of generic drugs to these countries witnessing steady growth over the last few years.

India’s pharmaceutical export to Kenya almost doubled from Rs 292.94 crore in 2006-07 to Rs 543.86 crore in 2008-09. The drug export to Uganda and Tanzania alone rose during this period from Rs 152.75 crore to Rs 290.76 crore and from Rs 152.24 crore to
Rs 274.94 crore respectively.

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