By Zeba Siddiqui
MUMBAI (Reuters) - The head of an Indian drugs industry lobby group on Thursday said media reports linking pollution in some lakes and rivers to factories making antibiotics were not accurate and that drug factories were in compliance with local environmental rules.
India's $17 billion drugs industry is one of the world's biggest suppliers of antibiotics. But activists, researchers and industry officials told Reuters last month that lax local regulation has allowed many large drug factories in the country to pollute rives and lakes with antibiotics, risking the spread of drug-resistant bacteria. (http://reut.rs/2dlynQT)
P.V. Appaji, director of the Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council (Pharmexil), said Indian drug factories' environmental standards were regularly audited by foreign customers, including drug distributors and manufacturers who source from them. He said he did not know how often such audits were conducted.
"This is targeting the top pharma players in India ... it is going to have an impact on our exports," Appaji said by telephone.
Pharmexil, which held a news conference on this subject in Hyderabad on Thursday, is a body under India's commerce ministry whose mandate is to promote the drugs industry.
Pharmexcil said in a statement it agreed with the fact that there was a serious threat to public health from the emerging antibiotic resistance bacteria (superbugs) which is due to various reasons including environmental control.
It said the government had recently expressed its concern and the Indian drug regulator had recently announced some measures to curb excessive/irrational use of antibiotics.
Thirteen leading drugmakers promised last month to clean up pollution from factories making antibiotics and take steps to curb overuse of the medicines as part of a drive to fight the rise of drug-resistant superbugs.
(Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in Mumbai. Editing by Jane Merriman)