This news in Times of India is just an tip of the iceberg, the reality of alternative medicine industry. Toxic substances being sold at exorbitant prices labelled as herbal substances can be unmasked only if checked and controlled strictly. Gullible masses consume these substances without knowing the right dose or right drugs thinking them as herbal products . Assumptions that they are free from side effects is another myth, that goes unsaid.
MUMBAI: The Aurangabad division of FDA has found sildenafil citrate, commonly known as Viagra, and a short-acting anaesthetic drug in two alternative medicines meant to increase sexual desire and potency that were randomly tested for quality recently. The worrying finding has prompted the drug regulatory body to issue a statewide circular asking its officials to seize any available stock of these drugs- Power up capsules and Tiger king cream. The containers of both the alternative medicines didn’t mention the allopathic components sildenafil and anaesthetic drug (lignocaine hydrochloride), giving rise to fear of serious health consequences in people who might consume them unknowingly. Viagra, in particular, which is given for erectile dysfunction, is supposed to be taken only when prescribed by a specialist as it can react with other ongoing medications and give rise to life-threatening complications. In July, FDA officials raided the office of Srishti Unani Medicine Agency in Aurangabad and found stocks worth Rs 16,000 that had arrived from Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Tests revealed each Power up capsule contained 49.45mg of Viagra, while Tiger king cream had a significant amount of lignocaine hydrochloride, though only the herbal components were mentioned in the packing material.
The spurious drugs were manufactured in violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. “We will lodge an FIR against Naman India, the UP-based manufacturer, that has been selling these drugs in the name of herbal medicine to gullible consumers,”, joint commissioner, FDA, Aurangabad. He said the department is yet to establish where these drugs were supposed to be distributed, but there is demand from across the state. It was during a raid in the city sometime in 2015 when the department woke up to rampant adulteration of so-called alternative medicines with allopathic drugs. An official said it was an “industry worth millions” that clandestinely ran out of Tier-2 and 3 cities or slums in metros. “Under the Act, manufacturing of alternative drugs needs a licence, but there are no legal provisions for distribution and supply. So monitoring becomes a challenge,” said an FDA official. Medically, doctors say, such rackets are not just about making spurious drugs and making a quick buck but messing with people’s lives. “It’s a menace that has existed for years unchecked. Alternative practitioners charge exorbitant sums for these medicines that illegally contain sildenafil, which otherwise costs just Rs 30-40 when sold as an allopathy drug.