Raising the alarm, a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India report has indicated that citizens are being exposed to inferior quality drugs in Maharashtra. The CAG report, submitted in the legislature on Wednesday, said an audit found 25 per cent of the drugs declared ‘Not of Standard Quality’ were not withdrawn in time, resulting in their being consumed by citizens.
“This can have a serious consequence on the health and welfare of the public,” the CAG observed. According to the CAG report, 1006 drugs were declared ‘NSQ’ or inferior between 2012 and 2017. This included 175 declarations made by drug controllers of others states. The list included tablets, syrups, capsules, and injections. Public health norms states that once a drug is declared NSQ, state FDA officials must immediately issue a notice to their manufacturers directing their “immediate withdrawal” from the market and take quick action against erring manufacturers. “Of the 375 NSQ cases audited, 95 cases (25 per cent) were such that more than 50 per cent of the drug stock was consumed before the drug was withdrawn. In 61 cases, the entire stock was consumed. Delays in recalling of NSQ resulted in their consumption by the public,” the CAG said, adding, “Deficiencies indicate failure of the Medical Education and Drugs Department…”
The CAG said the FDA had also failed to take action to cancel licences of 1,535 drug selling units whose licenses had expired, posing a risk to public health by possible sale of drugs by such units. It further observed that renewal of drug licence was done without the inspection of premises of drug selling units, and has even raised serious questions over lack of adequate testing facilities in Maharashtra. “The sampling of infant food, instant milk, meat and fish products, fruits and vegetables were not taken for testing in several districts,” the CAG stated.
Deficiencies in health protection scheme
Amid the hype around the Centre’s National Health Protection Scheme, the CAG has raised questions over the implementation of the state’s own health protection scheme, the Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayi Aarogya Yojana (now known as Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Aarogya Yojana), which has been functional since 2012. Reviewing the scheme’s implementation between 2012 and 2017, the CAG has observed that the “scheme’s benefits did not commensurate with expenditure incurred on the premiums paid.” It has questioned instances where excess premium had been paid to the insurer company, while pointing out that a surplus premium of Rs 48 crore was lying with the firm. It has called for streamlining of the scheme’s implementation.
Sports policy confined to paper
While Maharashtra formulated a sports policy in 2012, the CAG observed it was yet to “translate into action.” It has said despite spending a huge amount, the state’s sports department has been unable to create and maintain adequate sports infrastructure and coaching facilities.