The Health Ministry has banned around 350 fixed dose combination (FDC) drugs including cough syrups like Phensedyl and Corex.
The banned drugs codeine-based FDCs. An FDC is a drug in which equal quantities of two or more drugs are mixed to form a single, saleable drug.
Many of these drugs are manufactured without proper Central Government approval.
The ban comes after a committee set up in 2014 to review more than 6,000 FDCs filed its report. Although the Ministry approved the ban with effect from Friday, it will notify of the same in an official gazette on Monday. The Ministry has also reportedly issued show cause notices to companies manufacturing and selling these drugs.
Why the ban?
It has been reported that codeine in the drugs cause lethal damage to the brain, and do not have any therapeutic efficacy.
Another reason cited was ‘misuse’. Codeine is a derivative of opium, making it an addictive substance. Even the International Narcotics Control Board has raised alarm over the high numbers of people getting addicted to such drugs over a period of time.
Phensedyl, for instance, is rampantly used by the youth in Bangladesh as an addictive.
This 2008 photo shows an Indian policeman with seized cough syrup bottles near the Bangladesh border. Reuters
While Phensedyl is manufactured by US drugmaker Abbott Laboratories, Corex is sold by Pfizer Inc.
Three per cent of Abbott’s $1 billion revenue comes from the sale of this drug, Reuters reports. The economic impact of the ban will be huge; almost to the tune of Rs.1,500 crore. But despite this the Ministry took a decision that will save the lives of people.
Do you think the government took the right decision in banning the drugs?