Rajya Sabha passes revised Drugs and Cosmetics Bill

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New Delhi, Oct 21 (UNI) The Rajya Sabha today passed the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bill, 2005, doubling the minimum imprisonment to ten years to those convicted of manufacturing and selling spurious drugs.

The maximum punishment of life imprisonment has, however, been retained in the Bill.

The Bill has also raised the quantum of fine from Rs 10,000 to Rs 10 lakh or three times the value of drugs confiscated, whichever is more.

The Bill also provides for compensation to the relatives of victims of such adulterated or spurious drugs. The amount payable to kin of victim shall be equivalent to the fine realised from the convicts held guilty for death or grievous hurt.

The Bill, however, provides for compounding of certain offences to be covered under section 32B in clause 7 by the Central Government or by the State Governments.

Accepting that the presence of spurious or adulterated drugs in the market, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said this, however, constituted only 3.5 per cent and not 35 per cent as has been alleged by the members, even the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also stoutly denied the figure of 35 per cent.

He said there are four categories of spurious drugs, that are : adulterated, spurious, misbranded and not of standard quality.

Dr Ramadoss mentioned that India has the highest number of drugs approved by the United States Drug Authority (USDA).

The Government is also considering to set up a Central Drug Authority on the lines of USDA to ensure that drugs standard quality are manufactured.

He categorically denied that spurious drugs were being supplied to Central Government Health Services (CGHS) and instead said that the high standard and quality drugs were available at CGHS.

On the question of USFDA notice to Ranbaxy for some procedural issues on drug manufacturing, he said that the notice was sent directly to the company and not to the Government. Moreover, Ranbaxy has 52 drugs approved by the US agency.

He admitted that many drug manufacturing companies do not have good manufacturing practice (GMP) and such units have been asked to stop manufacturing, till they get GMP.

On the issue of vaccines, the Minister made it clear that vaccines were of standard quality, but were not handled properly during logistics and transportation.

Dr Ramadoss said there is a proposal to set up some designated courts for trying such cases of spurious drugs producing companies.

He said India has the lowest cost of drug manufacturing in the world. On the price front, he mentioned that Chemical and Fertilisers Minister Ram Vilas Paswan is properly taking care of this thing.

Dr Ramadoss informed that Indian drug industry is worth over Rs 60,000 crore of which the export content is Rs 20,000 to Rs 24,000 crore and the pharmaceutical industry is growing at 10 to 15 per cent annually.

EDS: Pls pick up suitably from earlier series.

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