Industry protests against smear campaign

The India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), on behalf of the government of India, has taken strong objection to a smear campaign being orchestrated by the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute (AEI) against the whole Indian pharmaceutical industry


The pharma industry has asked the Government of India to initiate legal proceedings against all concerned

As per IBEF, there are efforts to tarnish the image of the Indian pharma industry which it has painstakingly developed over the years and is often recognized as "Pharmacy of the World".

AEI has published the findings of a "study" as a working paper in the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Paper series. The study has not been reviewed by any of the authors' peers as is the gold standard in serious academic publishing. The study cites anecdotal evidence and hearsay, quoted earlier in the author's other publications, as facts with established academic provenance. "Cleverly, the Board of NBER distances itself from the contents of the report; yet parts are being reproduced under NBER's name to give it credibility which is completely being otherwise," mentions the statement from IBEF, representing Indian industry and government. 

The study claims to assess "the quality of 1,470 antibiotic and tuberculosis drug samples that claim to be made in India and were sold in Africa, India, and five mid-income non-African countries" based on samples "from pharmacies in 22 cities of 18 low-to mid-income countries between 2009 and 2012." The conclusions of the study are disputed not only for methodology and ethics but also for the poor treatment of data sampling used.

"Quality is one of the major focus for pharmaceutical exports from India. Indian companies meet the quality requirements of all our importing countries. India looks at healthcare as a holistic issue rather than just commercial business," said Mr Sudhanshu Pandey, joint secretary, Department of Commerce, Government of India

Commenting on the conclusions, Mr D G Shah, secretary general of Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA), an industry body of twenty research-based Indian pharmaceutical companies, "The study recognizes that products with "Made in India" label may not be actually made in India. The study also recognizes that transportation and storage conditions could have impacted the quality of products. But ignoring these realities, it still attributes poor quality (of drugs at the consumer end) to manufacturers and the Indian pharma regulator." This is not only strange but reflects a campaign with an ulterior motive rather than actually being concerned about quality issues.


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