In fiscal 2008 tests by Indian states found 157 samples of ‘spurious or adulterated’ drugs but since then the figure has fallen each year, dropping to 95 in 2010. Full data for 2011 is yet to emerge but looking at figures for the first half, when 41 fakes were found, suggests the downwards trend could continue.
The dip comes despite an uptick in sample testing. After a drop in 2009, the number of tests done in 2010 increased to 10 per cent above 2008 levels. Again, preliminary data for 2011 suggests testing has increased.
Even at the highs of 2008 the percentage of fakes in tested samples was only 0.35 per cent, similar to the findings of a Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation of India survey done a year later. Both figures fall a long way short of media reports in recent years that claimed more than 10 per cent of drugs are counterfeit.
Different definitions could explain some of the discrepancy. Indian government figures differentiate between ‘substandard’ and ‘spurious or adulterated’ pharmaceuticals. Spurious drugs are rare but there are 1000s of cases of substandard pharmaceuticals each year.
In 2008 substandard drugs accounted for more than five per cent of samples tested in India and the figure has stayed fairly constant in the following years. More variation is apparent when looking at differences between states, with some regions being hotspots for substandard drugs year after year.
Chattisgarh, a state in central India, is one such region. From 2009 to 2011 substandard drugs made up more than one-third of pharmaceuticals tested by the state, although relatively few products were tested. Some bigger players have quality issues too though.
Every year 1000s of samples are tested in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat, the latter of which is the engine room of Indian drug production, and 100s are found to be substandard. In 2008 tests found 16 per cent of samples in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat were of substandard quality.
The data suggests the situation in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat has improved, with the number for both states dropping to eight per cent in the first half of 2011, but they are still above the average in India.
To analyse the data in-PharmaTechnologist created the interactive tool below. Using the drop down menu above the bar chart you can look at how test results and other factors have changed over time. The lower drop down menu allows you to look substandard and spurious drugs by state and year.
Data comes from the Indian minister of health and family welfare and is available here.