Discarded medicines available in flea market add ‘punch’ to hooch

Even as investigators desperately hunt for the source of methyl alcohol,those in the hooch business suspect that the substance,which has claimed over 100 lives,could be discarded medicines,which are sold in the flea markets across the state.

Written by Hitarthpandya | Ahmedabad/vadodara | Published:July 11, 2009 12:54 am

Even as investigators desperately hunt for the source of methyl alcohol,those in the hooch business suspect that the substance,which has claimed over 100 lives,could be discarded medicines,which are sold in the flea markets across the state.

The Indian Express managed to get some of the medicines,which were being sold at the Shukravari Bazaar (Friday flea market) in Fatehpura area of the city after a long gap. Shockingly,some of the medicines that were supplied by the Health Department and are supposed to be distributed only in government hospitals,were sold in this market for a meagre Rs 5 for a strip of 10 tablets.

For Rs 10,the newspaper bought 10 strips of Ferrious Sulphate Tab with ‘Gujarat government supply,not for sale’ written on it,Calcium Gluconate,Metrogyl 400,E-Folifer Tab and Amoxycillin. Interestingly,none of these medicines were outdated,including Ferrious Sulphate supplied by the state Health Department. “We get these tablets from the Sir Sayajirao General Hospital compound near the bridge close to Bahucharaji,where they are regularly dumped,” said a vendor selling these medicines at the Friday market.

A bootlegger in the Walled City area said on condition of anonymity: “This is one of the many cheapest ways to make the hooch more ‘effective’. Most of the drugs have some or the other substance,which affects the nervous system. We don’t check which tablet or syrup we are dumping in the hooch. Our intention is to make the brew as strong as possible since we have to compete with rivals.”

Nearly a year ago,the Federation of Gujarat Chemists and Druggists Associations along with the drug inspector,had conducted a raid at the Ravivari Bazaar in Ahmedabad and seized a huge consignment of expired drugs.

Jaswant Patel,president of the Federation,admitted that expired drugs easily make their way to the flea markets and even open markets. “If the government gives attention to this serious issue,it would open a Pandora’s Box. There are all chances that these medicines are used in hooch as most of the drugs have some or the other compounds,which can add ‘punch’ to the country-made liquor. The issue of expired drugs is purely between the stockist and the drug manufacturing companies,” he added.

Surprisingly,the police have no clue about the availability of the tablets in flea markets. “The Health Department is there to monitor these. How do we know what these medicines are and why they are being sold in Shukravari Bazaar,” said an officer at the Fatehpura police chowky falling in the city police station jurisdiction.

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