Saturday, November 5, 2011

Culture of fakes

The other day I happened to go to Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital in Andheri, Mumbai. This hospital is considered among the most prominent and posh hospitals of Mumbai, and rightly so. While in the hospital, I noticed several life size boards in English and Hindi, placed at significant places, warning patients and public in general about “ FAKE” or duplicate medicines. There may be more in other languages on other floors. But the one I came across in the registration department read thus in English: “Do you know there are 10500 factories manufacturing fake medicines in India? Be aware from where you buy your medicines.” This is more or less the gist of the notice. Anybody can go read it and be aware.

Now when an institution of Ambani’s prominence declares something, one can be sure of some kind of basis, some survey of some kind. The moot point is, one can rely on the information shared by the hospital. It is noteworthy that they have mentioned 10500, not ten thousand or twelve thousand or so. There is no approximation here. That in turn means that they are sure of at least these many in existence. There may be more small units in rural areas. It is quite possible.

Simple arithmetic or simple commonsense tells us that a manufacturing unit, be it a fake or genuine, cannot survive on a single retail outlet. At a rough estimate, each unit must have at least three hundred retail outlets to supply. These 10500 units are having 3150000 (thirty one lakh fifty thousand) retail outlets selling fake drugs. Chances are every second outlet is a suspect. Where do you go then?

The question is if Kokilaben Ambani hospital is aware of this, so are other hospitals and doctors and so is the government or the administration. What is Food and Drug department or whichever department which is responsible, doing about it? In any other country, the culprit of such a crime would be hanged without delay. In India it is easy to play with health and life of humans, as it has no value.


Header image credit: adapted from David Niblack

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