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Fake drug poser on healthcare

Next time you visit a medical store to buy medicines, don’t assume that the expiry date written on the foil of the medicine would be right.

Reason: The medical store might be selling expired drugs with changed wrappers. On Wednesday, when the state drug control administration carried out a raid on an unlicensed godown on Govind Mitra Road, they found many expired medicines.

The unlicensed godown stored medicines worth around Rs 30 lakh and most of the drugs had expired. The drug inspectors found blades and erasers from the godown, which were allegedly used to change the expiry dates and price of the medicines. The medicines found were anti-snake venom serum, injectables and drugs related to cardiac ailments among others.

This was not the only time the state drug control administration found expired medicines during a raid. Sources from the state drug control administration said last year too many expired medicines were seized during a raid in Makhania Kuan, another locality of the state capital. “In that raid also, we found a large amount of expired medicines. It consisted mainly of antibiotics, calcium tablets and cough syrup,” said Yashwant Jha, a drug inspector of Patna.

Subhash Chandra Roy, licensing authority, state drug control administration, also confirmed that expired medicines had been found on many occasions. “We often find expired medicines during our raids but yesterday, we got a large amount of expired medicines. There is no denying that some medical shops are tampering with the expiry dates of medicines and selling those.”

Experts cautioned that popping expired medicines could be harmful.

Keshav Kumar Sinha, assistant professor in the pharmacology department of Patna Medical College and Hospital, said: “Expired drugs lose potency but it may also produce toxic effects. Drugs have a shelf life. When it ends, anything could happen. There are many medicines, which become toxic after they expire. Expired antibiotics can cause renal failure. Antibiotics, especially of terramycin group, can be very toxic after expiry. Expired drugs have a possibility of fungal growth. Popping expired vitamin tablets can cause liver problems, digestion ailments and gastrointestinal disorders.”

Navneet Kumar, one of the drug inspectors of Patna, said: “Expired drugs don’t dissolve properly in blood and thus cause problems. Some of the expired medicines also cause cardiac ailments.”

State drug controller Hemant Kumar Sinha said selling expired drugs is considered equivalent to selling fake medicines.

“Expired drugs lose their efficacy. So we assume expired drugs to be fake. The drug control administration lodges FIR against any person found selling expired drugs. Imprisonment up to three years can be awarded to anyone found guilty,” said Sinha.