Deliberate adulteration

It is the most serious illegal act of adulteration and may be called the true type of adulteration. This type of adulteration is done intentionally to defraud and involves conditions like admixture, deterioration, sophistication and substitution.

The admixture type of deliberate adulteration is accomplished by deliberately mixing related or unrelated cheaper substances to the genuine drug in order to increase its bulk or weight or expressed qualities (odour, colour, taste, etc). Admixture involves a number of different conditions, which include the following:

  1. Addition of worthless heavy materials like pieces of stone, iron, lead and limestone to the genuine drug to increase its weight. This type of adulteration has been found in lumps of Opium, bales of Cascara or Cinchona barks and Liquorice roots.
  2. Addition of artificially manufactured spurious substances to the genuine drug to increase its bulk and weight. In such. cases of admixture, materials are artificially manufactured simulating the general form and appearance’ of the actual drug and then mixed with the later. For example, Ergot has often been admixed with small masses of flour dough molded to the correct size and shape and coloured to the right tint by dipping them into a suitable dye. Artificially prepared pieces of wood with the same size and shape have been used to adulterate (admix with) Nutmeg.
  3. Addition of inferior commercial varieties of the same drug to the genuine drug to increase its bulk and weight. For example, African or Japanese Ginger is often admixed with medicinal or official Ginger and sold at higher price as Official Ginger.
  4. Addition of synthetic substances to fortify inferior drugs. For example, citral is added to enhance the odour of substandard Lemon oil, and cinnamic or benzoic acid to deteriorated balsams to restore their potency,
  5. Addition of powdered waste produces of similar colours to powders of genuine drugs. Examples of such admixtures include: addition of powdered olive stone to Gentian or Liquorice powders; Hazel nut shell powder to Cinnamon powder; exhausted Ginger powder to Colocynth or Ginger powder, and dextrin to powdered Ipecauanha.

Deliberate deterioration of crude drugs is done by partially abstracting their active principles using processes like distillation and solvent extraction. Spent Clove is a typical example of deliberate deterioration. In this case a portion of the volatile oil is removed by distillation from whole Cloves. This partial distillation docs not affect the natural morphological and sensory characters of the drug. Thus it ca be sold as a genuine sample.

Sophistication is a typical type of deliber·ate adulteration. A sophisticated drug may not contain any amount of the genuine drug as the adulterated drug sample may be prepared totally from spurious substances or rarely may contain an insignificant quantity of the actual drug. A sophisticated Ginger powder is made by mixing debris of Ginger powder with proportionate quantities if Wheat flour (to provide the starchy nature), Curcuma powder (to incorporate the cream colour), and Capsicum powder (to restore or enhance the pungent taste and odour). Thus the sophisticated Ginger powder will have all the characteristics of the genuine drug. Sometimes the sophisticated drug is admixed with large quantities of the actual drug to increase its bulk and weight. This type of adulteration is quite common in crude drug trade.

Substitution is a serious type of deliberate adulteration in which an entirely different article is used or supplied in place of genuine article. Selling or supplying one cheap · drug in the name of another similar costly drug is a typical case of substitution in drugs. The principal motive of substitution is to earn a higher price for a low quality or entirely different cheaper product. As apparent from the motive, this kind of deliberate adulteration is generally done with an article which has a similar appearance to the genuine drug but is lower is quality and cheaper in price than the later. For example, official Alexandrian Senna (Cassia acutifolia) is often substituted by leaves of Cassia auriculata or Dog Senna. Beeswax is often substituted by Paraffin wax after changing its colour to yellow with a suitable dye. Belladonna leaves have been substituted by Scopolia leaves; Stramonium by leaves of Xanthium species; Sterculia gum is used as a substitute for Tragacanth; Peach carnal oil for Olive oil, and many other similar examples are there in the commercial market.

Substitution for many crude drugs is sometimes done by inferior commercial varieties. For example, African Ginger is often substituted for official Jamaican Ginger; fruits of various species of Piper are often substituted for Cubebs, and Smyrna or Hog Tragacanth for official Tragacanth.

Exhausted drugs are often used as substitutes for original drugs. This occurs in cases of drugs, which retain their original morphological appearance even after complete extraction of their active constituents by distillation or percolation. Various umbelliferous fruits and Clove constitute good examples in which this type of adulteration occurs. The volatile oils of these drugs can be easily distilled from them without bringing about any noticeable change in their appearance. This type of substitution is also common in many powdered drugs, like Cascara and Ginger. Any colour lost due to solvent extraction is restored by adding artificial dye to the exhausted drug, as is done with Saffron. Similarly, the bitterness of exhausted Gentian is restored by adding Aloes.

Of all the forms of drugs that occur in the market powdered drugs are more prone to adulteration as powders of the same parts of different plants look very similar to each other and thus it is not easy to detect adulterants in them.


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