Indian Health Ministry banned 344 Fixed Dose Combination Drugs recently. The popular brands that have suffered the ban include Phensedyl, Corex, Benadryl and Vicks Action 500.
Now, what if some of the drugs, which have escaped the axe of ban today are declared ‘unsafe’ after 5 to 10 years later?
If we look at the history of drug ban, this isn’t the first time some allopathy medicines are facing a ban and a ban need not necessarily mean they have met a dead-end. Drugs banned in countries like the US and European countries still find their way to markets in developing nations and other third world countries, where they are allowed to sell as imported medicines or formulations permitted for manufacture and distribution under respective regulative bodies in these countries.
Let us keep aside legal tangles, political reasons, corporate lobbying, etc., and look primarily from the angle of ‘medicines and their influence on the human body’. Host of these banned medicines are not only ‘irrational’, but are harmful as well. ‘Dangerous’ would be an appropriate word. Some of these drugs contain ‘Codeine’, which can cause lethal damage to the brain. And the worst part is, they have been sold as OTC (Over The Counter) drugs, which many of us could have been using for years.
The manufacturers of these drugs may get a legal reprieve from the courts by getting an interim stay or eventually succeed in revocation of the ban. Whatever may be the outcome, it’s time we study the effects of OTC drugs before we buy them and ask our Doctors or Chemists whether medicines prescribed by them are safe or not.
Documentation corresponding to a drug and its composition, speak in length on the effectiveness of a drug and its possible side effects. But this information may not reach up to a retail buyer buying them from a drug store. At the market level, when a person picks up a strip of a tablet or capsule or a bottle of syrup, one may just find a word of caution in terminology that is not commonly understood.
A lay man to chemical terms, which most of us are, may not be able to relate with drug compositions, their percentage and how they could affect our health. Some prescription drugs do carry a complete list of possible side effects in a small booklet when we buy them in box. But unfortunately we never care to read what’s in it or tend to brush aside the warnings, thinking ‘our doctor knows it better’. It’s either negligence or blind faith or both.
The drug ban will certainly affect the pharmaceutical companies. According to a survey as quoted by DNAINDIA40% of Doctors seem to disagree with the ban. The Pharma Market altogether is expected to suffer an immediate loss of 800-1000 crores. None of these can serve as a justification to trade human health and eventually life itself for the industry to gain.
We could be one of those gullible consumers, consuming the banned drugs for years. We may have no means to test the damage the drugs must have inflicted upon our system. But one life saving lesson we can and must hold in our memory is, “our bad health can also be due to the medicines we have been consuming.” And its no conspiracy theory.