Today’s blockbuster drug can be tomorrow’s health hazard. A new study says that Avandia, a diabetes drug from GlaxoSmithKline, increases the risks of heart attacks among users. Earlier, the medicated stents sold by Johnson & Johnson were shown to be less safe for cardiac patients than was earlier believed.
All new products suffer from this problem, as new information casts doubts on their efficacy. It is unfair to blame pharma companies for introducing them. The point is that once there is enough proof that these products put users at higher risk, it is essential the drugs are withdrawn from pharmacy shelves.
But who will do this? India does not have any product recall law. The onus is on the pharma companies to monitor the market and keep studying the effects of a drug on users. But pharmacovigilance does not work well in India, with little information flow from doctors. Indian patients need better protection.