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For the immediate attention of the Governor

editorial 6

Shocking news is there on wheels over the presence of spurious and sub-standard drugs in Kashmir, and reports are that drug mafia are facilitated (against huge bribes) by vested interests to operate freely in different parts in the valley. The latest official data says that around 3000 medical shops are currently operating across the valley running the dirty business of fake drugs. While 1200 medical shops have never applied for license, the authorization of nearly 1800 medical shops is reported to have expired. Recently, the state drug department claimed that it has sealed 600 drug establishments in Kashmir division in last six years after they were running without licenses and the authorization of hundreds of establishments were suspended for selling drugs without prescription. However, it has failed to release the names of such drug sellers violating rules under Drugs and Cosmetics Act. What is even more disturbing is that more than fake 200 drugs are presently available for sale in valley markets. Even more shocking is that despite having been declared fake, these drugs are still on sale in the valley, and doctors too prescribe them without any sense of shame. This is nothing less than an organized crime in which official authorities and drug dealers are equally involved. The criminal silence maintained by the government against the perpetrators of this crime strengthens the notion that spurious drugs are supplied to valley hospitals and markets under a malicious design with complete official patronage. In the past four years ever since these drugs began to flood Kashmir markets, the mortality rate in the valley hospital showed an upward trend. Around 1000 infants are reported to have died in Badami Badami Bagh Children hospital alone in the past three years. Around 8000 patients are reported to have died at the Sher-i- Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), the only super-specialty hospital in Jammu & Kashmir—within 48 hours of being admitted in the hospital within same time span. The latest exposé is all to suggest that most of them could be victims of spurious drugs supplied by the state government’s health department. Doctors, though privately, admit that the death rate in other valley hospitals too has gone high. Initially, the reason for increase in death rates—more particularly in Children hospital—was attributed to lack of proper infrastructure and huge rush of patients. But as things now take shape it is generally believed that it were the fake drugs which primarily caused these deaths. There appears a nexus between drug dealers and officials responsible for controlling drugs. The doctors too cannot exonerate themselves. There is a section of doctors who are part of this nefarious business. They, against monetary considerations, prescribe such drugs, and on occasions even identify the medicine shops where ‘prescribed’ drugs can be purchased. These doctors are also allegedly paid commission for referring patients for x-ray and other medical tests by clinics and laboratories. The drug control department, on occasions, takes some cosmetic measures by declaring to have cancelled the licenses of fake drug dealers. But this has also turned into a profitable business for the corrupt officials of the department. All they mean by such measures is to extract more and more money from these dealers. A random survey in valley’s drug market can reveal this grim reality that more than half of the drug sellers and medicine shop owners do operate without licenses from the department. Corruption, of any nature, is a social evil and crime in any society. But it becomes more heinous when done at the cost of human lives. They could well be qualified as murderers and killers, who need to be dealt with like any killer. Though this heinous problem of deadly contours has been raised on many occasions in the past but no effective action was ever taken against fake drug-peddlers for political reasons. Since the State is now under Governor’s rule, a hope has generated that the new dispensation would take note of this grave human problem.