The government termed as ‘totally incorrect’ a report in Britain’s Guardian newspaper alleging that fake medicines from India were being sent to Africa, adding India ‘interacts extensively’ with African countries ‘to provide quality medicines at affordable prices’. The external affairs ministry was responding to a Dec 24 report in The Guardian which alleged that counterfeit medicines from Asia – mainly China and India – were playing havoc with the treatment of diseases like malaria in Africa. The report titled, ‘Counterfeit medicine from Asia threatens lives in Africa’, said in one part: ‘But several recent studies warn that as many as one-third of malaria drugs in Uganda and Tanzania are fake or substandard, with most believed to originate in China or India.’
In a statement, the external affairs ministry said: ‘The Government of India would like to state categorically that the report is totally incorrect. No fake medicines have been sent from India to the continent of Africa.’ It said that such allegations have earlier been investigated both in Africa and in India ‘and have been found to be baseless with the origin of such drugs not being from India. As the Guardian report itself acknowledges, India has stepped up oversight on this subject’. The statement said that India ‘continues to interact extensively with countries in Africa to provide quality medicines at affordable prices. The Government of India is committed to continue this cooperation in the strong belief that this is an ideal means of enhancing South-South cooperation and engagement.’
The Guardian report quoted Patrick Lukulay, vice president of the US Pharmacopoeial Convention’s global health impact programmes, as saying that ‘it was no secret that the majority of dangerous medications came from China and India, as those countries had the world’s largest production bases for both active ingredients and finished drugs’. While India has stepped up oversight, ‘China is only now just catching on’, Lukulay added.