Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd (KMSCL) asked hospitals in the state to stop using the most popular spinal anaesthesia drug prevalent in the market. KMSCL issued the directive after it was found that essential drugs, including those used for surgeries, being circulated in Kerala market for over past two years are sub standard. 

The drug, Bupivacaine in Dextrose INJ, which is most commonly used during complicated surgeries like the one performed in spine were found to be of sub-standard. Ironically, the directive came only weeks before the expiry of the current batch of medicine. The expiry of the drugs is in April 2017. 

The delayed move by KMSCL has raised doubts about the alleged nexus between pharma companies and authorities and regarding the standard of drugs being sold.

It is alleged that the authorities are not ready to test samples even after doctors expressed concern about the standard of the drugs being circulated in the market. Medicines, which are much below the standard quality prescribed, is being distributed in the market at a scorching price. 

"It is important to ensure the quality of critical care medicine. Using sub standard drugs can be dangerous for patients," Kerala Government Specialist Doctors Association president Sunjith Ravi said. 

Kerala consumes about 20% of the drugs manufactured in the country, and hence the drug quality control system here is alarmingly tenuous. However, State Drugs Control Department has the only limited facility to check the quality of medicines being supplied in the market. Though over three lakh batches of medicine hit Kerala market every year, only 3% is being put to the test.

"We got one inspector for 200 drug stores. There are over 20, 000 pharmacies spread across the state while there are only 47 inspectors. Lack of manpower affects the checking mechanism largely," state drugs controller in charge Ravi S Menon said.