Indian Pharma Companies Under Investigation For Poor Drug Quality Donate Millions to Political Parties

Seven Indian pharmaceutical companies made donations to domestic political parties while they were under investigation for substandard drug production, according to an investigation published in Scroll.

The companies named in the investigation included Hetero Labs and Hetero Healthcare, Torrent Pharma, Zydus Healthcare, Glenmark, Cipla, IPCA Laboratories Limited, and Intas Pharmaceutical. They were under investigation for substandard drugs including the anti-COVID drug, Remdesivir and anti-bacterial and anti-fungal medications.

Overall, some 35 pharmaceutical companies in India contributed nearly Rs 1,000 ($120 million) to political parties competing in the upcoming national elections, which are scheduled in phases through April and May this year.

The donations, originally anonymous, were made through the purchase of “electoral bonds”, system whereby an individual or an institution can fund a political party that was introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in 2017.

India’s Supreme Court recently directed the country’s public sector bank, State Bank of India, to disclose the names of the companies that made donations, and these names have been released by the Election Commission beginning on 14 March.

Punitive actions for failing a drug quality test can range from the suspension of manufacturing to the cancellation of a licence, and the decision lies with the Indian government.

The data released did not, as yet, disclose which political parties were supported, and to what extent. However, with just four weeks to go before the elections, India’s Supreme Court has pressed on for ‘complete disclosure’ of the data in a further order issued 18 March.

The analysis is part of an ongoing series of stories on the electoral bonds by a team of journalists from several independent news organisations including, Newslaundry, Scroll, and The News Minute.

Image Credits: AMR Industry Alliance, Glsun Mall/ Unsplash.

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