P.T. Jyothi Datta

Mumbai, July 11

THE shadow of counterfeit drugs cast over 14 small Indian drug companies selling in Nigeria may may be lifted soon.

"I am confident that most of the companies that were on the blacklist will be cleared and allowed to sell in their market," Mr D.B. Mody, Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil), told Business Line.

Earlier this week, Pharmexcil had taken a delegation to Nigeria comprising representatives of companies "blacklisted" by the Nigerian authorities.

Explaining the reason for his confidence, Mr Mody said the Indian companies had the Clean Findings Report from QCS - the agency appointed by the Nigerian authorities in Mumbai to check the consignment before it leaves Indian shores.

Further, the companies had also got a breather for the interim period till the final report on the issue comes out, he said. The Nigerian authorities had set July 30 as a date to honour existing contracts of the "blacklisted" Indian companies. This has been extended to December 31, he said.

In April, the Nigerian regulatory authority or the National Agency for Food & Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC) had put a clutch of Indian drug companies on the alert list.

It was imperative to set the record straight, as the image of the country gets tarnished, he said. Indian drug companies could be stopped from participating in global tenders from the World Health Organisation and other multilateral agencies, if misgivings remain on the quality of Indian drugs, he pointed out.

"If unregistered products are coming into the Nigerian market, it should be stopped by authorities at the Nigerian ports," he said. On how unregistered Indian drugs were making their way into the Nigerian market, he said: "Individuals come to India and purchase in bulk, which they sell in Nigeria or divert from its neighbouring states. That is an illegal trade channel and one cannot hold the company responsible," he said.

He admitted that the companies under the scanner were small-scale drug companies. Though the consignments may be small, he pointed out, the companies had legal manufacturing licences and had got a clearance report to sell in other markets. "We took up their case on the principle of it and asked for natural justice," he said.

The companies included: Kamala Overseas Bombay, Vardhman Export A-188 TTC, Unibios Lab, Shreechem Pharmaceuticals, Merit Organics, Milan Laboratories, Mission Pharmaceutical, Henkish Chemical, Intermed 4GK, Wardex Pharm and Dew Healthcare. A Pakistani company, Pliva Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd, was also on the list.

The NAFDAC's public notice had warned its people about dealing with "some notorious foreign companies who persistently indulge in dumping fake and counterfeit drugs into the country". In an earlier instance, 19 drug companies had been blacklisted by the Nigerian authorities, of which 15 were from India and the rest from China.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 12, 2005)
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