Vienna – Efforts to rid the world of dangerous medicines have been given a boost by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. Representatives of nations, police, manufacturers, academics, and pressure groups gathered last week at UNODC headquarters to discuss how to stop the medical equivalent of weapons of mass destruction. It was therefore appropriate that we were in the building which houses the International Atomic Energy Agency for the conference. Experts shared experiences and ideas of how to advance efforts to combat falsified medicines that probably kill many thousands of people a year.
Unfortunately, the Indian government seems to be taking orders directly from the more dubious parts of its own drug industry. India continues to deny that its producers have exported fakes. When challenged, the denial continues, even when academics have demonstrated the truth, and governments like Nigeria even banned several Indian firms from selling there. From India’s perspective, ignorance means blissful inattention to dangers exported from their shores.
India has many great drug producers, but it also has sloppy ones and criminal traders too, as I document in my latest HPO, published today. The Indian government wants little attention to this problem. It even tried to prevent a consensus statement from being made at the end of the UNODC meeting.
While a statement will be produced, it will likely be toned down, no doubt because of India’s mendacity. What this means is that progress against bad medicines will continue to be unnecessarily slow.