FDA’s functioning crippled due to acute staff shortage

Namrata Devikar
Thursday, 15 February 2018

“The drug inspections and cases are all to be dealt with by the department. But with such limited staff, smooth and timely functioning of these matters is delayed,” said the official.

PUNE: Though burdened with the responsibility of inspecting drugs and medicines from chemists and pharmacists across the State, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) faces an acute shortage of staff. Out of 160 posts for drug inspectors across the State, only 90 have been filled since 2012.

Officials at FDA noted that there are more than 50,000 pharmacies across the State. Speaking to Sakal Times, a highly placed source with the FDA noted that Pune has only eight drug inspectors. “The city is divided into four zones and each zone has two drug inspectors. It is difficult to work with such limited staff and inspect chemists and pharmacies. This condition is not limited to Pune city only,” said the source.

Another source said FDA officials are also burdened with court cases regarding consumers complaints. “The drug inspections and cases are all to be dealt with by the department. But with such limited staff, smooth and timely functioning of these matters is delayed,” said the official. The official said some posts were declared a few years ago, but due to some PIls, the posts were not filled.

An official at FDA said Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) posts are declared for FDA. “The applicant has to hold a pharmacy degree and only then the applicant qualifies. It is important for drug inspectors to know the intricacies in composition of medicines. Hence, these posts are important and should be filled immediately,” said official.

SUBSTANDARD AND FALSIFIED DRUGS RAMPANT
- A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last year estimated that one in 10 medical products circulating in low and middle-income countries like India are either ‘substandard or falsified’.
- The report said that since 2013, WHO has received 1,500 reports of cases of substandard or falsified products. Of these, antimalarials and antibiotics are the most commonly reported.
- The findings are part of WHO Global Surveillance and Monitoring System for substandard and falsified medical products. It is for the first time in 10 years that the WHO is publishing estimates on substandard and falsified medical products in low and middle-income countries.

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