India has begun collecting proof from African countries like Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Ghana where fake Chinese drugs are reportedly being passed off with the "Made in India" tag, earning disrepute for its $10.7-billion pharma industry.
"We have already lodged a protest with the Chinese authorities - at the mission here and also through our embassy in Beijing," said a senior official in the commerce ministry, referring to the recent seizure of a similar consignment in Nigeria.
"Now the process is on for collecting proof. We need to get hold of the actual fake drugs, find out how it is being peddled and, importantly, trace it to the factories in China where it is being manufactured," the official said, requesting anonymity.
"For this we need, and have also sought, the help of Chinese authorities."
Commerce ministry officials said there were reports earlier of fake drugs in some of the African countries being passed off as "Made in India" even though their origins could be traced to China.
"But we earlier thought these were very small in number being sold in places like small mobile-phone card kiosks. But we lodged our protest - protest, not as in a protest - but seeking help from Chinese authorities," said an official.
But after the confiscation of a large consignment of fake anti-malaria drugs in Nigeria that had a "Made in India" tag but was found to have been manufactured in China, the Indian mission in the African country alerted the commerce ministry.
"There is no reason for Nigeria to be the only country to be receiving such consignment," said the letter written by Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria Mahesh Kumar Sachdev.
The Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI), a representative body of the $10.7-billion pharmaceutical industry in the country, has been concerned about the issue of fake drugs and has strong guidelines for members.
"Counterfeit medicines represent an unacceptable risk to patient safety whilst at the same time jeopardizing the original manufacturer's image, reputation and, in extreme cases, their economic viability," the organisation said.