The consequences of dishonest, adulterated and counterfeit medicines are worse than those of fake Covid-19 reports, and those involved in preparing adulterated and counterfeit medicines are killers as they are slowly pushing millions of people to death.
Speakers said this at a human chain organised in front of the National Press Club on Monday to demand the maximum punishment for dishonest individuals and organisations involved in the production, marketing and sale of adulterated and counterfeit medicines.
The protest was held at the initiative of Safe Food and Consumer Rights Movement Bangladesh. If someone dies after consuming adulterated and counterfeit drugs, they demanded the death penalty for their manufacturers and dishonest traders. There is no scope of compassion, they said.
NAP secretary-general M Golam Mostafa Bhuiyan said the annual sales of adulterated or substandard drugs in the country is over Tk1,500 crore, which is 20 percent of the total sales.
"Where will we go and what will we eat? Vegetables, fruits, oil, etc. are adulterated. When you go to the doctor after consuming these adulterants, the medicines they will give are also adulterated," he said.
To get rid of this, it is necessary to make new laws against adulteration, he added.
He said the government should enhance the efficiency of the state apparatus as well as strengthen such measures to prevent the recurrence of such crimes and take necessary steps to ensure the death penalty or life imprisonment of the offender as per the Special Powers Act of 1974.
Kamruzzaman Bablu, chief executive of the convening organisation, said, "People take pharmaceutical drugs to heal but fake and adulterated drugs are causing deaths. It is important to end this situation. Manufacturers and sellers of counterfeit medicines are enemies of civilization and humanity. They are inhuman, they are enemies of the people."
"The government must take strict action against them. There can be no forgiveness for those who are killing people with fake drugs. They also have to boycott socially," he added.
He said that while the pharmaceutical industry of Bangladesh is becoming very prestigious in the world court, the country's market is being flooded with counterfeit, dishonest, unauthorised, and unregistered drugs – harming consumers. He added that life is being endangered due to counterfeit drugs and is causing long term physical damage.
According to experts in the pharmaceutical industry, at least two percent of the total drugs produced in the country – more than Tk400 crore's-worth – of adulterated, counterfeit and substandard drugs are produced every year.
On the other hand, officials of the Bangladesh Pharmaceutical Industry Association say the annual sales of adulterated or substandard drugs in the country is over Tk1,500 crore, which is 20 percent of the total sales.
There is no doubt that the protected syndicate of the drug market has been carrying out such activities for a long time in the hope of making more profit. And this syndicate controls the market of unauthorised, unregistered adulterated and substandard drugs.
A 10-point recommendation was made drawing the attention of the government to stop the manufacture and marketing of adulterated and counterfeit medicines.
The demands include ensuring maximum punishment for counterfeit, adulterated, expired and dishonest drug suppliers and, if necessary, enacting legislation with the provision of the death penalty including life imprisonment.
Providing judicial powers and increasing manpower in the Department of Drug Administration to ensure a safe drug supply.
Coordinating between different agencies to further strengthen the monitoring system and prevent the production plus marketing of counterfeit and adulterated drugs.
Stopping drug sales in public places including sidewalks, parks and public transportation.
Prohibiting the sales drugs in pharmacies without a prescription from a registered doctor.
Ensuring the presence of pharmacists in pharmacies to provide safe medicines.
Encouraging pharmaceutical research, bringing unlicensed pharmacies under the law, accelerating government's model pharmacy activities, increasing awareness among the public about consuming quality medicines.
Among others, NDP general secretary Manzur Hossain Isa and the former president of Dhaka University Journalists Association Mir Mohammad Jasim – plus Md Shahidul Islam, Manik Miaji, Sarwar Nizami, Sardar Mohammad Abdus Sattar, Abdul Aziz, Imam Hasan, and convener of the Comilla district branch HM Mohiuddin of the convening organisation – plus other leaders of different levels spoke at the occasion.