Merchants of Death Prey on India's Sick
Fri August 8, 2003 12:45 PM ET
By Terry Friel
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Walk into a drug store anywhere in India and chances are that one out of every five medicines on sale will be fake and even a potential killer.
It is a massive racket that kills an unknown number of people each year and robs legitimate drug companies of almost $1 billion annually -- 15-20 percent of the industry's total turnover.
The problem has become so widespread that a frustrated Health Minister Sushma Swaraj recently suggested the death penalty for the "merchants of death" who make vast profits peddling fake drugs....
Typically, the "spurious drugs" are made with cheap, otherwise harmless powders or liquids or are real drugs past their use-by date or stolen from government supplies.
When questioned about the plan Tom Delay said,"I know some liberals are gonna whine about it, but you can't deny that placebos are just plain cheaper."
Prior to driving out to cut some brush while on vacation in Crawford, Texas, President Bush was asked how such a plan squared with his "compassionate conservatism."
"Ah, hell. Most people don't die, and those that do get their co-pay refunded," Bush replied.