Ranbaxy Saga What Happens to the Indian Consumers

The newspapers these days are absolutely filled with negative, depressing followed by more negative and more depressing news. There have been scams, controversies all across India, but there has been one controversy which has been subdued in India, where the focus is currently on the IPL spot fixing, and Phaneesh Murthy controversy. The controversy which I am more worried about is the fact that Ranbaxy pleaded guilty to seven federal criminal counts of selling adulterated drugs that didn’t meet specifications. The US courts have fined Ranbaxy to the tune of $500 Million for duping the American consumers with the adulterated drugs.
I have always felt the healthcare business is one which runs on faith and the people in this business are no lesser than gods when it comes to patients. Imagine you are suffering from a fever, ache or any other ailment and you visit a doctor who looks at your symptoms and prescribes you some small tablets. These tablets work as magic inside your body and in a few days you find yourself cured. When a company which makes these drugs indulges in action like these you tend to question that faith. Personally speaking whenever I play squash or go for a run and there is an ache I use Volini spray which is a product of Ranbaxy and now I question if the product is authentic, does it really works on my ache or is it my body itself recovering? I don’t even know how many times doctor would have prescribed me a Ranbaxy medicine and I am not sure if it worked.
My heart goes out to people who had critical diseases, who lost out people because the medicines they trusted on were adulterated and the company sold them in the market faking specification. The fact that they were are penalized in US for the malpractices; I have my doubts if anything will happen to them in India. The people in our country who suffered by their lack of ethical practices will never get justice or even understand what has been done to them. At times when all the media is talking about other controversies I am wondering is there an enquiry happening on what Ranbaxy has been selling in India. Are there steps being taken so that until things are cleared people don’t use adulterated and drugs made not up to specifications?

It is high time government and the Indian judicial system takes up the task of delivering justice to the common man against corporate greed and unethical practices.

You can read more about the controversy and the case here.

4 comments on “Ranbaxy Saga What Happens to the Indian Consumers”

  1. Ramesh Reply

    Some colour, if I may add, to the post Prats. Ranbaxy is certainly guilty of some deplorable business practices, which they themselves have admitted.

    But I think, your concern of spurious or adulterated drugs from them can probably be alleviated.

    They are guilty of two things. Firstly misreporting (and sometimes forging) clinical trial results on new drugs. Secondly poor quality control procedures in a few of their plants.

    Lets take the first one. The problem arises because of the US quirky system , where when a patent is to expire, there is a system of First to File from generics drugs manufacturers. Whoever is first to file and gets cleared, gets a six months monopoly on that generic drug in the US, before everybody else is let in. Therefore there is a mad scramble on first to file. Here Ranbaxy has clearly falsified clinical trials results to become the first to file, and their logic was that post their application, by the time the FDA cleared their drug, they would have perfected it. While this is an appalling practice, I don’t think anybody’s safety was screwed in the end.

    The second problem is poor QC practices in some of their factories. They were clearing batches, even if there were impurities in the raw materials. What I gather from the press reports is that this may have compromised the shelf life of the product . Also when defects were found, they were much too tardy in withdrawing products of the market. This is , alas, a common problem with most drug manufacturers. Even the sainted Johnson & Johnson, had similar problems and similar action was taken by the US Dept of Justice.

    Driven by greed and chasing profits, Ranbaxy had certainly resorted to sharp practices and deserve an almighty kick .

    However, I think, you are safe using Volini. The bigger problem in India is spurious drugs and counterfeiting, especially in the trade. The best course we can adopt is to buy any medicine only from a known and reputed retailer (perhaps a chain like Apollo), where counterfeits are less probable. I think we are still safe relying on reputed manufacturers, including Ranbaxy.

    • Prats Reply

      @Ramesh: The second point you mentioned is what I am worried about, the laws in US are very stringent and the repercussion on indulging in practices like these is fatal for a company. However in India people don’t even understand what kind of drugs are being supplied to them in the market. The laws and governing bodies in India are hardly as aggressive as US, the end result is people are not even aware that they are being duped by these pharma companies. I am not saying that Ranbaxy is worse or better than the others but the fact is something like this have happened in US and the Indian governing machinery, media and everybody is silent on the issue.

  2. Shilpa Garg Reply

    It is truly sad that a company like Ranbaxy is guilty of selling adulterated drugs. Having worked in Pharma Companies for a decade (Cipla and Unichem), I was always wary of using medicines from smaller companies. Even if a doctor prescribed a brand from a small time player/unknown company, I would always buy the same drug from a reputed company. The reason being that medicines can be manufactured even in a garage. The QC and the stringent standards, GMP are not maintained by small players. The sub standard doses can lead to drug resistance and also morbidity and mortality.
    But with big companies like Ranbaxy selling drugs which do not meet the desired specifications shatters the faith as consumer!

    • Prats Reply

      @Shilpa: Yeah even I did that. As a matter of fact I take medicines with the same compositions from a reputed brand and lower price. This entire thing with Ranbaxy has made me concerned on how we put faith with our lives into hands of these pharma companies blindly chasing the profits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *