The country’s newly appointed Drugs Controller General of India, Dr. Rajeev Singh Raghuvanshi, will have a brimming in tray to deal with when he takes over the top regulatory job on Thursday.
He takes charge, following two extensions of the previous DCGI, VG Somani, who helmed the authority through a string of high-pressure developments, including the pandemic and several emergency authorisations that were given to Covid-19 vaccines, medicines, and diagnostics. But the drug regulatory authority had also recently been confronted with alleged corruption charges involving their top officer and members of the bio-pharma industry.
While an in-house clean-up should feature at the top of his to-do list, other controversies vying for his attention would include the cough syrup issue and deaths of children in Gambia and Uzbekistan, potentially linked to drug products from India. Both cases are under investigation at various levels, with information gaps still to be plugged and people yet to be held accountable.
The paediatric cough syrup-linked deaths whittle down to the presence of contaminants like DEG (diethylene glycol), and industry representatives say Raghuvanshi would be rightfully placed to address technicalities, given his earlier stint as Secretary andScientific Director at the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC), an autonomous body under the Union Health Ministry that sets standards for drugs in the country.
Raghuvanshi also comes with a chunk of industry experience across major pharma and healthcare companies, including the erstwhile Ranbaxy, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, and Dabur Research Foundation. Former colleagues recall him as a person with a “stable” outlook who took people along as a team. His industry experience should hold him in good stead to address quality concerns involving drug manufacturing facilities, a former industry colleague said.
The industry is also looking for some traction on the pending New Drugs, Medical Devices, and Cosmetics Bill (2022), besides separate discussions on medical devices, the marketing code for medicines and devices, and so on. And the appointment of Raghuvanshi upto February 2025 they hope, would bring some stability to the regulatory environment.