Fake Drugs Big Business in India

NEW DELHI, Sept. 11 (UPI) — India, the world’s leading maker of generic drugs, is also a center for counterfeit and substandard medications, officials said.

With authentic-looking packaging and labeled with the names of legitimate companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Novartis, the fake drugs are sold to Indian consumers and in developing nations around the world, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

“They look real, but all these are fakes,” said investigator Suresh Sati, displaying boxes of confiscated drugs in his New Delhi office..

Sati is head of an agency that helps police conduct raids against counterfeit-drug syndicates across India.

“A regular customer cannot make out if a drug is fake. … The biggest giveaway is when someone is selling medicines very cheap. It is almost always fake,” Sati said.

Experts say the worldwide fake-drug industry, worth about $90 billion, is responsible for almost 1 million deaths a year and is contributing to a rise in drug resistance.

Last year, India strengthened its drug laws, and suspects found guilty of manufacturing and selling fake drugs can be sentenced to life in prison.

But it’s an uphill battle, Sati said.

“It is very difficult to dismantle the entire operation,” Sati said. “When we bust one operation, two more spring up elsewhere.”

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