India state ups effort to root out counterfeits

Mobile lab newest tool used in Gujarat
Tools

The FDA and regulators in Europe have been throwing up protections against counterfeit and substandard drugs that have been making their way into supply chains. But studies indicate it's developing countries where these products often go undetected and where they wreak the most havoc. At least one state in India is making a new effort to test and uncover them.

The Gujarat Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) has acquired a mobile drug testing lab to help it test for counterfeit drugs. Gujarat, a state in western India with more than 60 million people, is the first in India to get hold of the specialized equipment. Its analysts have been trained by U.S. FDA employees and will begin using it this year, The Economic Times reports. "The mobile lab is equipped with latest gizmos," Gujarat FDCA Commissioner H. G. Koshia told the publication. "The lab would help step up surveillance in the state and lead to quick detection of fake drugs, which otherwise is a lengthy process."

The new technology is only one tool being used by the drug regulator in Gujarat to address drug quality issues. Last year it launched a texting program to notify "all the stakeholders" when counterfeits are discovered and recalled.  

India and China are often cited as the source of most of the counterfeit and substandard drugs in the world but it is citizens in developing countries that often are the victims. The World Health Organization estimates that 700,000 people in Africa alone die each year as a result of taking fake anti-malarial and tuberculosis drugs. The FDA and the European Fine Chemicals Group (EFCG) last year both called on drug regulators in developed countries to start fighting the issue by finding ways to help countries with few resources better police drug manufacturing.