The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) has released a new report which estimates that 20% of all medicines sold in India are counterfeit. It also states that the value of this domestic market for fake drugs grew from 30 billion rupees in 2005 to 40 billion rupees last year.

Moreover, 35% of all fake medicines sold throughout the world are now sourced in India, according to the report, which the industry organisation has submitted to a number of government departments in a call for action.

Of the counterfeit medicines which are sold in the Indian market, 60% contain no active ingredients whatsoever, while 19% include inaccurate ingredients and 16% contain harmful and inappropriate ingredients such as talcum powder, says the report. It goes on to warn that counterfeit medicines currently account for an estimated 38% of all drugs used in Indian government hospitals.

The market for counterfeit products of all kinds is costing India’s national economy around 150 billion rupees a year, says Assocham. It adds that the trade is being allowed to flourish because of the lack of preventive legislation and enforcement, or of any kind of deterrent, and that court procedures used to tackle the problem are too lengthy.

By Lynne Taylor