According to the Department of Drug Administration (DDA), 25 out of 55 drugs manufacturing companies are operating illegally. About 46 percent of the total domestic drugs demand is produced within the country, and this 16.5 billion rupees industry is lax when it comes to following government mandated World Health Organization Good Manufacturing Practices (WHO GMP). The GMP is a quality control aspect of quality assurance in drugs manufacturing. While many companies have not even applied to GMP, some have not renewed their GMP certification. In a recent study conducted by Nepal Health Research Council, several drugs in the market were found to be substandard. This is a blatant violation of public’s trust on the pharmaceutical industry. These companies have to ensure that the public receives drugs with the highest possible quality. The Department of Drug Administration (DDA)—the regulatory body—under the Ministry of Health should punish the companies that fail to abide by national and international quality assurance practices.
The general public already pays a heavy price when it comes to healthcare—be it the hospital costs or buying medicine. We want to be assured that the drug we buy is safe to use at all times. If abiding by the WHO GMP is expensive or tedious, then those companies are putting profit before public health and safety. The government regulatory cannot just rely on pharmaceutical companies’ lab tests before drugs are sent to the market. What is even more troubling is the fact that the government bodies responsible for monitoring and thereby ensuring the quality of drugs often sit idle or carry out monitoring only sporadically. Even if the manufacturing companies are found to be violating the standard norms, they rarely face legal trial. Often exchange of kickbacks is suspected and government officials are widely perceived as doing little or nothing to bring the guilty to the book. This in turn has encouraged the unscrupulous companies to go about their way in making profit.
Letting the drug companies to operate illegally and letting them supply substandard drugs to health facilities is against people’s right to health and safety. It should be noted that most of such drugs go to the government health facilities where the people with low economic status go to receive the treatment. That no action has been taken against suppliers—such as Lomus Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd, Alive Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd, Vijaydeep Laboratories Ltd, Ind-Swift Limited, Nova Genetica Pvt Ltd, Arya Pharma Lab Pvt Ltd, Omnica Laboratories Pvt Ltd and Leben Laboratories Pvt Ltd—also shows how the government officials are least bothered about the health and wellbeing of the commoners. People go to hospitals and take the medicines prescribed by health professionals with the belief that this will cure their ailments. In the society like ours where the respect for health professionals is huge, common people rarely question the quality of drugs—most of them are not able to, in fact. The suppliers seem to have taken advantage of this situation. This is dishonest and blatant abuse of public trust. The government must punish these companies to ensure that no actor will dare to play with public health and safety in the days to come. Nobody should be allowed to go scot-free.