KSMSCL Procured, Distributes Drugs With Animal Husbandry Label

Bengaluru: In a major goof-up that has belatedly come to light, the Karnataka State Medical Supplies Corporation Ltd. (KSMSCL) procured seven drugs, including nasal solution and eye drops, labelled as Animal Husbandry Veterinary Sciences (AHVS) Department. Over 25% of the procured stock was supplied to Health Department hospitals for human use.

While Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao clarified that the drugs procured by KSMSCL from a private pharmaceutical company were not for animal use, officials from the corporation said it was only a “logo misprint” issue. As a precautionary measure, the corporation has so far recalled 70% of the supplied drugs from the hospitals.

However, this has led to panic among patients who have visited State-run hospitals in the last three months. On January 5, 2024, a private pharmaceutical company – Pushkar Pharma Ltd. – supplied the products to all the KSMSCL warehouses in the State. Subsequently, an official from the corporation’s Kodagu warehouse noticed the AHVS logo on the products and brought it to the attention of the higher officials.

When officials took this up with the pharma company, the company requested KSMSCL on January 18 to accept the supplied stock with the error in the logogram design. The company assured the officials that it was only a logo misprint and that the products were of standard quality and safe for use in humans. They also offered to mask the AVHS logo on the products at their own cost.

Although tampering with logos and labels on medicinal products is a violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940, the KSMSCL allowed the company to mask the logo and also slapped a 1% penalty (of the purchase order value of ₹62.89 lakh) as per tender conditions.

KSMSCL Managing Director Chidananda S. Vatare, who asserted that it was only a printing error, told The Hindu  on Wednesday that the masking of the logo did not amount to a violation of the Act. “No changes were made to the label of the product information provided. Also, the logogram design was correct in one part of the product (mentioning Health Department) and the printing error in the logogram design (which was masked), was only in another part of the product. Here, instead of the Health Department, it was typed as AHVS Department,” he explained.

“As there was almost nil stock of the drugs at the warehouses and hospitals during January, we allowed the company to mask the logo in the interest of public health. The tender terms and conditions were applied, and the company was warned and fined before accepting the drugs as a one-time acceptance only,” the official said.

Calling upon people not to panic, Mr. Vatare said the company has also submitted product permission copies that confirm that these products (drugs) are as per Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP) standards and for human use only.

“The analytical test reports from NABL/government-approved laboratories and in-house test reports of the products also confirmed that these products are of standard quality as defined under the Act. Besides, test reports from the private empanelled laboratories of KSMSCL have also reported that these products are of standard quality,” Mr Vatare asserted.

While acknowledging negligence by the company, the official said the company has given in writing that it has not supplied these products to the AHVS department. “Besides, the manufacturer does not have permission to manufacture the above referred products for veterinary usage. The batch manufacturing and batch packing records of all these products are also found to be exclusively for KSMSCL,” he said.

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