The case of supply of sub-standard drugs in Government hospitals and dispensaries has been in the news for quite some time. In 2015, the racket of supplying spurious drugs to premier health institutes in the State was reported and even played up by the print media for quite some time. However, like all other cases of fraud and deceit, this case also was put on the back burner to give reprieve to the defaulters who use their political clout to save their skins. Common sense dictates that a case in which the health of millions of people is involved should have been dealt with on the basis of priority. But nothing of the sort has happened and many companies alleged to be manufacturing sub standard drugs and supplying these to State hospitals and dispensaries have been making hay in the sunshine of benign negligence of the Health Department.
Unfortunately, misusing the great demand for some of the known drugs and the growth of lucrative business of pharmaceutical industry, irresponsible and selfish drug producing companies resorted to unfair means and began supplying sub-standard drugs thus violating the laws that govern quality control. As many as 29 pharmaceutical companies have been identified by the authorities, which are alleged to have been producing and distributing spurious and sub-standard drugs to the Government hospitals and dispensaries in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. In this immoral and illegal business not only the manufacturers but distributors and even retail sellers all are responsible and culpable before the law. The distributors are fully aware of the status of the drug they are supplying to the hospitals or in retail. As such they cannot and should not escape the reach of the law.
Twenty nine pharmaceutical companies whose drugs were found sub-standard by testing laboratories were being prosecuted in trial courts for breach of law. These companies had filed petitions in the High Court challenging the cognizance taken by the subordinate courts against them for their involvement in supplying substandard drugs.
The verdict of the High Court in this case is highly appreciated by the people at large. It is regrettable that the pharmaceutical companies have been playing with the health of innocent people, children and seniors. No humanistic and law abiding company will ever indulge in such acts as would imperil the health of millions of people. We would be very happy if the trial courts award exemplary punishment to the defaulters once their culpability is proved so that it becomes a lesson for others and in this way a bad and vicious practice of playing with the health of the people is stopped once for all. We cannot say what should be the quantum of punishment if the crime is proved but people will be highly satisfied in case the culprits are given exemplary punishment. The State High Court has directed the trial courts to go ahead with the legal proceedings against 29 drug companies whose products were found sub-standard by testing laboratories. It should be mentioned that Drug Inspectors of various districts on market checking had collected samples of various drugs of different pharmaceutical companies for testing their standards and the collected drugs were found, on testing, not to be of standard quality. This was enough proof for the High Court to dismiss their cases and permit the lower courts to go ahead with the proceedings.