Drugs Enquiry Committee (D.E.C.), 1930

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It was constituted in 1930 with Col. R.N. Chopra as Chairman, Shri C. Govindan Nair as Secretary and Dr. B. Mukherjee as Assistant Secretary.

Drugs Enquiry Committee (D.E.C.), 1930

It was constituted in 1930 with Col. R.N. Chopra as Chairman, Shri C. Govindan Nair as Secretary and Dr. B. Mukherjee as Assistant Secretary. The other three members of the Committee were Fr.J .F. Caius, Mr. H. Cooper and Maulvi Abdul Matin Chowdhary. The Committee did splendid service to the cause of pharmacy profession in the country. The Committee visited many places in the country and interacted with the doctors and other professionals on the matters pertaining to health care system in country, quality of medicines available, etc. The questionnaires were sent by the Committee to medical personnel, customs officers, manufactures, medical associations and others related to medical field.

The terms of references for the Committee were as follows:

1. To probe into the quality of drugs, that are being imported, manufactured and sold especially, those which are official in B.P.

2. To suggest remedial measures for checking import, manufacturing, sale or distribution of the substandard or spurious drugs and their formulations.

3. To look into the formulations prepared indigenously from the vegetable drugs and suggest remedial measures for maintaining the quality of such formulations.

4. To look into all other aspects directly or indirectly connected with the profession of pharmacy.

D.E.C. reported that there was no systematic profession like pharmacy being practiced in the country. The drugs were dispensed and compounded or handled mostly by the untrained people. The remuneration paid to them was poor. The so-called compounders with no knowledge of drugs were handling the drug formulations. They were also doing the work of dressers, helpers, laboratory technicians and all other miscellaneous jobs including, maintaining the accounts of doctors. These compounders were able to read and write in English and that was the only qualification they had for handling the drugs. Only in the provinces of Bengal and Madras, there was a training course for compounders/ chemists & druggists. The report was a sad commentary on the poor state of the profession of pharmacy in the country. After in-depth study and critical analysis, the committee made following recommendations to the Government:

1. There should be legislations to control drugs and other remedies whether belonging to the B.P or not.

2. There could be another law to ensure that drugs are handled by qualified persons and there could be a systematic course in pharmacy.

3. A drug regulating authority at center and in provinces/states be established.

4. There should be drug/quality control laboratories established in provinces and also at the centre. The efforts should be made to publish Indian Pharmacopoeia.

The Committee submitted its report in 1931. The findings of the Committee spurred activity in teaching institutions, industry and the profession. Until 1937, British rulers did not act on this report. In 1937, Import of Drugs Bill was introduced with limited reference to the import and later withdrawn due to public criticism. Finally, in 1940 The Drugs Bill was introduced in the Parliament, based on the recommendation of D.E.C and after in-depth deliberations The Drugs Act, 1940 was enacted which was latter ammended to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

The Health Survey and Development Committee, 1945 constituted under the Chairmanship of Justice Bhore also re-emphasized the need for the qualified and trained pharmacists and registration of pharmacists, formation of Councils to govern the profession at Centre and in Provinces, strengthening of the provisions of Drugs Act, more drug control laboratories for strengthening of infrastructure for drug regulation, etc.

The recommendations of Drugs Enquiry Committee and Health Survey and Development Committee were responsible for laying the foundation for the Pharmacy Act, 1948. The Pharmacy Council of India was constituted in 1949 and the minimum qualification for registration as pharmacist was prescribed and process for registration described.

After independence, it was felt to regulate the advertisements of drugs, which were in exaggerated form and misleading. A number of manufacturers were making exaggerated claims for their medicines and also exploiting the human weaknesses especially, in relation with advertisements pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases, menstrual disorders, loss of vigour, stamina, etc. The magic remedies were freely advertised for the cure of Bhanamati, epilepsy or fits, diabetes and number of other diseases. The magic remedies in the form of Kavachas, Taits, Talisman, Sacred Bones, Sacred Bhasmas, Mantras, etc., were freely practiced and the poor and illiterate people were exploited. It is to control such objectionable trends, "The Drugs & Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act" was passed by the Parliament in 1994.

Alcohol is an important solvent in pharmaceutical industry. Alcohol is required for manufacturing of drugs and also for drug formulations as vehicle, preservative and therapeutic agent. At the time of independence, manufacturing, sale and distribution of alcohol was controlled by provinces/states. The rates charged by the provinces/states in the form of excise duties were different for different regions. Alcohol was also being misused and it was drug of abuse. It is to regulate the production, sale and distribution ofalcohol and to bring uniformity in the excise duties to be paid, the Medicinal and Toilet preparations (Excise Duties) Act was passed by the Parliament in 1955.

The Drugs Price Control Order, 1970 and thereafter at subsequent intervals was aimed at fixing the prices for the drugs and their formulations categorized into essential and non-essential groups so that uniform retail rates for certain categories of drugs can be maintained and the drugs prices of life saving drugs can be controlled.

The Indian Patents Act 1970 which was process patent based gave an impetus to Indian pharmaceutical industry which resulted increased indigenous production of drugs and pharmaceuticals. In post WTO era, with the new product patent regime coming into force, the Indian pharmaceutical industry is undergoing rapid metamorphosis to meet the challenges of globalization of pharmaceutical trade. Many Indian pharmaceutical companies have acquired the status of multinational companies. A new era of pharmaceutical profession in India has just begun to meet the challenges of Post-GATT and Post-GATS developments.

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