I will do all to safeguard public, says Mahesh Zagade


The Maharashtra FDA Commissioner insists every chemist shop must have a qualified pharmacist, finds Dilip Chaware.

Reported By: Dilip Chaware | Source: DNA | Updated: Nov 27, 2013, 11:00 AM IST 

Are we aware that Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR) claims about 1,00,000 lives in the US every year or that no precautions in this regard are taken in India as a whole to prevent ADR?

Do we check if a pharmacist is present in our chemist shop? Do you insist on obtaining a bill after buying a medicine?

Absence of pharmacists during the crucial step of sale of medicines can have a very serious impact on not just the current generation, but even the generations to come. The business of medicine is different from other businesses; here, one is dealing with the patient who is already in a vulnerable condition. As such, utmost care should be taken to ensure that his health is not further compromised by wrongly sold or prescribed medicine.https://7065c2fe1e4568980574e1252ae72db8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

These are some of the elementary provisions in various laws enacted in India for safeguarding the average consumer but few care to observe them. Unless the general public is more vigilant in implementing laws, the situation would not improve, Mahesh Zagade, Commissioner of Food And Drug Administration (FDA), Maharashtra says.

When Maharashtra FDA Commissioner Mahesh Zagade began enforcing various legal provisions in different existing legislations, he had to face stiff opposition from all quarters. An agitation was launched against him by chemists’ associations. The agitation is still going on in bits and pieces. Fortunately, Zagade has been able to implement the campaign relentlessly since he believes that a patient’s life is more precious than any business or commercial consideration.

He is happy that the drugs and pharmaceutical industry, by and large, has responded positively to his crusade.https://7065c2fe1e4568980574e1252ae72db8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Maharashtra has about 51,000 chemist shops. That works out to one shop for every 2,000 people, on an average. The state has 150 drug inspectors. Zagadediscovered at the beginning of his tenure that almost 34 percent of the chemist shops had been carrying out business without appointing a qualified pharmacist. Following this and with the cooperation from the retailers, he ordered that each shop must be inspected at least once a year by an inspector. He also started cancelling licenses. No such step was ever taken in the past. As a result of this intensive drive, appointment of pharmacists has received a much-needed boost all over the State. The outcome is that Maharashtra leads in the country as far as inspection of chemist shops is concerned.

As if by a coincidence, Zagade took over the reins of Maharashtra FDA in August 2011 when the Food Safety & Standards Act (FSSA) came to be enforced across the country. FSSA replaced the antiquated Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. Zagade was determined to enforce the provisions of FSSA in letter and spirit. Over the past two years, he has faced many hurdles but is glad to declare that his efforts are proceeding in the right direction and the general awareness about consumption of medicines is on the rise.

“At the end of the day, what matters is the safety of the people. I want Maharashtra FDA to emerge as a department that cares for the people, guards then from unscrupulous elements. Public good must prevail over private interests,” Zagade explained in an interview for a special feature on FDA Maharashtra.

At a meeting of the All India Drugs Consultative Committee held in New Delhi on November 12, 2013, Zagade circulated a note which bluntly brought home the truth that various provisions relating to the food items and medicines were observed more in breach than in implementation (See Pg 10 for the note). Zagade’s submission changed the complexion of the meeting agenda and it was agreed generally that all state FDAs needed to be more proactive in safeguarding the citizens of the country from the spread of spurious drugs, adulterated food items and from those professing magic remedies.

The sex ratio in Maharashtra has improved dramatically over the past two years. Ranked lowest in the state for its skewed child sex ratio in 2011, for instance, Beed district is now showing a promising upward swing, having recorded a 159-point jump last year in the number of baby girls born per 1,000 boys. The state’s child sex ratio at birth, too, has shown at upward turn, with 905 baby girl births recorded for every 1000 boys last year, a feat officials attribute to the effective implementation of the PCPNDT Act.  When asked if his campaign against unethical medical practices has contributed to this achievement, Zagade says, “I can only say that sales of certain MTP (medical termination of pregnancy) drugs have dropped by 87 per cent in Maharashtra over the past two years. It is for the authorities to determine how FDA’s role has promoted in creating awareness in this regard.”

Attributing his achievements to the dictum “Implement law as it is, schemes as they are,” Zagade describes how he had to wage a battle inside the FDA and outside for such implementation. “One flaw I noticed in the mechanism after taking over was that the average patient was nowhere while the focus was restricted to the manufacturer, distributor and seller. I was determined to shift the focus to the common man. I am happy to claim that I have been successful to some degree though much remains to be done.”

A milestone in Zagade’s two-year tenure is his effort in smashing the stranglehold of the chemists’ association. Industry insiders know very well how the association dictated terms to manufacturers, distributors and retailers. A system of obtaining a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the association for introduction of a new medicine in the market and to appoint a dealer and stockist, though it had no legal standing. The manufacturers were required to obtain such an NOC without which business could not be run. Zagade raised his voice against this extra-constitutional practice. The matter went to the Competition Commission of India. Finally, the association had to issue an official circular which stated that no NOC from it would be required and that there would be no boycott of pharma companies that did not approach the association for an NOC.

To guard the average consumer further, Zagade appointed a committee to recommend guidelines on how to issue prescriptions. The committee comprises representatives of prominent Council and those practicing Ayurveda or Unani systems, and of the Pharmacy Council.

Another important enforcement is that no drug would be sold by a chemist shop without issuing a bill. The precaution is needed to prevent the sale of spurious drugs and to establish traceability of every transaction. “I found that hardly 5 to 6 per cent transactions were billed,” he reveals. An agitation is underway against this enforcement, too, but Zagade is unruffled.

Zagade declares that Maharashtra is the topmost state in implementing provisions of FSSA, which covers all stages of food, from the moment raw materials leave an agriculturists stock until it reaches the dining table. It is from ‘Farm to Fork,’ he remarks. Transport of raw material, its stocks in godowns, suppliers, processors, manufacturers, tistributors and retailers are all under the purview of the Act. FDA is the sole implementing authority in this chain. There is a food management system and filing of annual returns with specific periodicity is mandatory.

Self-compliance for testing and food auditing also forms part of this mechanism. “Strict implementation of FSSA will ensure that no consumer receives sub-standard or outdated food items,” Zagade points out.

About the stellar performance of Maharashtra FDA in implementing FSSA, Zagade says that out of the 16 lakh licenses issued under FSSA in the country, Maharashtra’s share is about 4 lakh or almost 25 per cent. In banning harmful products like gutkha or scented supari, the seizures all over the country amount to less than Rs10 crore whereas Maharashtra alone has confiscated such products worth Rs24 crore. “This shows how serious Maharashtra FDA is about the well-being of the average citizen. Maharashtra tops in almost all health parameters in the food or drug sector.”

To make the system of analysing health and medicinal products still more stringent, Zagade has asked the FDA laboratory to come out with its report within three days of submitting a sample.

Earlier, several months used to elapse before such a report was available. Moreover, Zagade has created a system whereby the chemical analyser will inform all the drug inspectors in the state, all the FDA Commissioners around the country and the media about the findings through a single email at the same time. “This will alert the machinery and the general public will be informed through the media about the products which are recalled from the market,” he points out.

Zagade, who joined the IAS in 1993, has taken on the mighty and the powerful at every post he has been appointed to. He has faced slander campaigns and has been threatened with fatal assaults. But he is determined to decimate unscruplous elements and practices.

About the challenges he faces in the present assignment, Zagade says, “I am trying to change the mindset of the FDA machinery so that even after my transfer, the campaign continues. I want the FDA to play a role in which it protects the people from wrongdoers. I am of the opinion that ultimately, it is the general public which has to be vigilant and alert towards protecting its own rights.”

Maharashtra has about 51,000 chemist shops and 150 drug inspectors. Almost 34 per cent of the chemist shops had been carrying out business without appointing a qualified pharmacist. The situation is changing for the better since Zagade has taken over.

An MNC sold a product which was already banned in the US and misrepresented about the ban. Maharashtra FDA was quick to expose this racket.

A committee to recommend guidelines on how to issue prescriptions consists of expert representatives from all branches of medicine. The committee’s report is expected to be submitted soon.

Out of the 16 lakh licenses issued under FSSA in the country, Maharashtra’s share is about 4 lakh. In banning harmful products like gutkha or scented supari, the seizures all over the country amount to under Rs.10 crore whereas Maharashtra has confiscated such products worth Rs.24 crore.



IMG_3275Mahesh Zagade, IASx
Brief Intro

PROFESSION : Rtd. Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
( Batch:1993)

Educational Qualifications. : M. Sc. Phytopathology

TRAINING : Attended various short term and long
term training programmes in public administration in India and abroad including a course on Leadership and Change Management

Awards: 1. International:
Recipient of
World Health Organisation
International No Tobacco Day

2: National:
a.National Gold Award
for e-Governance 2012-13.
b: President’s Silver Medal
for Census 2011

Current Activities:


It had been a wonderful and enriching journey of of 37 years in Government and with a multinational company. On the way, I could gather insights into diverse subjects ranging from research and development, Public & Corporate Administration, Revenue, Agriculture, Rural Development, Urbanization and Urban Development, Renewable Energy, Energy Conservation, Sustainability & Environment Protection, Education, Medicines, Health Sector, Food, Water and Soil Conservation, Agri-processing , Finance, Transport etc to name a few.

Apart from this, it has been a passion for me to motivate young minds through series of lectures on futuristic innovations, confidence building, disruptive Innovations, general motivation for success and happiness and plethora of other subjects.

I have started sharing my experience, vision and knowledge to almost all segments of the society including corporates, farmers, students, government officials, people’s representatives, health professionals, academics etc through lectures and specifically organised meetings. I am surprised to get overwhelming response for this kind of engagement with a variety of stakeholders.

Through this message, I am making it public that I will be available for such public lectures or workshops or seminars or meetings and I’m also offering consultation in the above mentioned topics.

You may contact me on my personal mail :





Consultations in a large number of sectors.



A1. The Chairman,

Public Concern for Governance Trust,

Pune Chapter ( currently held post)


1. Principal Secretary to Government of Maharashtra,( March-May, 2018)

Administrative Reforms, Organisation & Methods,

General Administration Department,

Mantralaya, Mumbai-400 032

1B. Divisional Commissioner, Nashik Division & Metropolitan Commissioner, Nashik Metropolitan Region Development Authority  

1C. Metropolitan Commissioner & CEO, PMRDA

To plan and develop Pune Metropolitan region(~7000 sq kms) as an international premium Investment Destination by adopting development parameters to make this region with one of the highest liveable indices, lowest per capita energy intensity, walk to work city culture, improvement in local ecosystem, improved governance system to achieve highest ease of doing business.

Designation. : Transport Commissioner,
The Transport sector in the country is one of the backbones of happiness index of the people and economic health of the society. The Transport Commissioner is responsible to secure proper implementation of the Motor Vehicle and allied acts to secure intended objectives of providing services to the citizens pertaining to driving licenses and registration of vehicles as is generally perceived. It was my endeavour to implement the statutes to minimise road accident deaths, to minimise unproductive time spent by citizens on road, to eliminate corruption by wide ranging administrative reforms, to eliminate the age old practice of touts, to provide hundred percent services online and to reduce footfall in RTO offices to zero.
The above objective achieved to a great extent within a short span of 8 months. The department experienced a revolution in the work culture and was appreciated by the citizens.

2. Designation : COMMISSIONER,


The FDA had been besieged with age old system that masterly acquired deception chiselled with sharpness of raw skill to scuttle basic provisions of the statutes in such a manner that the society remained blissfully unaware of catastrophic effects of non-implementation of basic legal provisions. It was nothing less than a disastrous failure of epic proportion of task assigned by the Parliament. And all this happened in spite of the fact that the Report of Justice Lentin Commission enumerated these pitfalls and suggested corrective measures 24 years ago. I tried to reform the administrative machinery. This daunting task to reorient the organisation, change the mindset and get the objective achieved from the same official machinery that had been steered on wrong path for far too long , by those who were on the helm of affairs. Also endeavoured to impress upon the officials that “the level of corruption is inversely proportionate to the level of implementation of law” and the implementation of law in FDA was dismally lowland not many were willing to follow the new regime of law implementation as it reduced opportunities of corruption and termed the new initiative of administrative reforms as ” administrative terrorism” and tried every trick of trade to thwart the people centric effort.
The basic purpose and objective of creation of this organisation, as the Regulator, is nothing less than protection of human life, not only of current generation but also of the future generations .
This orientation was secured by strict 360 degrees implementation of law for uninterrupted supply of affordable quality drugs with necessary counselling of pharmacists to avoid adverse drug reactions, organ failures, deaths , drug resistance , protection of people from drug addictions etc. Also tried to dismantle three decade old monopoly of drug trade associations all across the country that affected common consumers and patients.
Unwary and gullible public fall prey to various objectionable advertisement pertaining to drugs, broadcast on various TV channels in electronic and print media. Took effective steps to curb such advertisements by lodging FIR, prosecuting offenders. This has resulted in considerable reduction in no. of advertisement presently being telecast in print and electronic media.
Young population of the society gets addicted to opiate like drugs such as Codeine Phosphate etc. The menace is controlled to a great extent by taking stern and exemplary action against distributors and Retailers engaged in sell of drugs without bill, without proper prescription.
The objective of drug testing is to remove NSQ drug from the market. The system for recall, withdraw of Not of Standard Quality, Banned Drugs has been put in place, thereby ensuring availability of standard quality drug to the common public.
Effectively geared up state machinery for transition of prevention of Food Adulteration Act and other allied acts to Food Safety and Standard Act 2006. Took major initiative in creating additional infrastructure in the department for implementation of Food Safety Standards Act 2006. Gutkha, Pan Masala, flavored/scented tobacco and Areca nut were consumed by a very large population which was associated with development of mouth cancers and many other conditions and diseases. This menace was brought to an end by imposing prohibition against these products to ensure healthy society. In the process, seized such products worth ₹ 36 Crores, a largest quantity than combine actions all over the country. The prohibition was challenged in Hon. High court as well as Hon. Supreme Court, however, these courts refused to grant stay to prohibition orders as voluminous research data on ill effects of tobacco and Areca nut on human body was presented to these courts .The new Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 was enacted with such a vigour that Maharashtra led the country in its implementation during last three years. In fact, Maharashtra achieved laurel of registration/licensing of 26% of the Country’s total work. A precise document mandating Model Prescription Guidelines to avoid prescription errors/adverse drug reactions, to prevent drug resistance and to give access to affordable generic medicines was issued for the first time in India.
Functioning of the department is improved by taking several administrative measures like introducing accountability for each and every officer, introducing system of monthly monitoring, creating Head Quarter for monitoring state activities and taking deterrent and exemplary action against corrupt and non performing officers. Maharashtra has gained supremacy at the national level due to role FDA’ work and initiatives during last three years.

(12.05.2009 – April 2011 )

Introduced administrative reforms to make the municipal administration responsive vibrant and transparent. To name a few initiatives in this regard, entire municipal record was made available to any citizen from 3.00 p.m. to 5.00p.m. on every Monday as a further step of RTI Act, an RTI library was established building permission & all other permissions process were not only accelerated but was made least cumbersome. Infrastructure projects like “signal free cities” mass transit projects like Metro, Mono Rail, riverside free way, water supply reforms etc. were takes up to make Pune one of the most livable cities.

4. Designation : DIRECTOR GENERAL

Job Description:
As the Director General of MEDA, gave enormous boost to green energy projects like wind mills, biomass energy, wave energy. Also conceptualised implemented venture capital scheme for giving boost to investment in this sector. Green Energy marketing was mainstreamed through RPO implementation. Energy conservative scheme were designed to bring down energy consumption in a structured manner, energy audit was promoted as major saving tool in all the sectors of economy as well as domestic sector. The MEDA bagged many awards for all these efforts.

5 Designation : Collector and District Magistrate, Nashik

Job Description:
An Administrative Head of Nashik District of Maharashtra state responsible to perform various functions as Head of the Revenue Administration, to discharge statutory functions as District Magistrate, including maintenance of Law and Order; to maintain communal harmony; to co-ordinate with all other State and Central Agencies in the district; to function as the Secretary to the District Planning Committee and to monitor execution and progress of Annual Plans; to handle natural calamities, society to implement EGS; to conduct elections to Legislative Assembly / Council / Parliament and local Self Govt. bodies and to manage Mega Event of KUMBHAMELA.


Management of Kumbhmela 2003:

The management of KUMBHMELA is considered to be in the league of management of International Mega Events, requiring ultimate test of managerial skills, focused leadership & highest level of patience and above all dedication to convert the assignment into assured success.

The Kumbhmela was planned and managed on the principles of Six Sigma principle which was acclaimed at National and International level by Management Experts, Media, General Public and above all the Sadhus.

In order to give boost to the district G.D.P., ambitious annual credit plans of Rs. 1600 to 2000 Crores, largest of its kind in the country were implemented for three years in Nashik. The Banks were encouraged and motivated to draw this largest ever plan in the country and the same was implemented in toto. This has resulted in achievement of an impressive rate of growth of about 9% to 13% during the three year.

The communally hyper sensitive Malegaon town, hitherto know for abrupt eruptions of communal violence was kept totally trouble free by activating peace committees and through innovative measures. The result was a calm and quiet Malegaon even during communally explosive situation in other parts of the country.
The activities of labour unions were tackled with ultra seriousness to avoid any industrial unrest. This paid excellent dividend in the form of total industrial peace.

A massive water conservation campaign under the guidance of Divisional Commissioner was launched to increase water availability in the district by involving all Government departments as well as the N.G.Os, local self Government bodies and the citizens. Water conservation structures worth about Rs. 2.50 Crores were created through voluntary work of the people.

In order to raise Human Development Index in the district, development in the agriculture sector was considered to be imperative as more than 65% population depended on the Primary Sector (Agriculture); however, in contrast, the contribution of this sector to the district G.D.P. was only 19%. In view of this skewed economic position, development in the Primary Sector through synergy of efforts in the production, processing and marketing of agricultural products was taken up on the top most priority. As a result, 21 new wineries came to be established in the district within a short span of three years. Efforts were also undertaken to brand the agricultural produce for better return and possibilities were explored to established agro processing units in the district on a large scale.

An institutional, organized network established and operated over a period of a decade by some unscrupulous land developers to avail illegal gains through systematic violations of most of the property related State and Central enactments by adopting ingenious means was unearthed and process to establish corrective measures was initiated, much to the displeasure of the elements having vested interest. This has not just helped to re-establish rule of law in the Revenue matters but also has helped increasing faith of the public in Nashik in the Government machinery and helped in stopping massive evasion of Government dues. This has been highly appreciated by common man and media as well. Government has assured CID inquiry in this matter and was congratulated on the floor of Assembly for this work.

The impending disaster likely to be caused due to unprecedented heavy rains and floods was successfully prevented by on the spot decisions regarding controlled release of water from the reservoirs with perfect co-ordinations with the Irrigation Department. This yielded absolutely astounding results as when, other Districts with similar rainfall pattern were facing serious crises and loss of life and property due to rains and floods, Nashik remained totally free of loss of life and property or for that matter free from any disruption of life.

The District is predominantly having agrarian base of economy and has more than 50% area designated as drought prone area. On this background, irrigation forms, backbone of the district economy. During the year 13500 MCFT overflow water which, otherwise would have flown out of the district was utilized for recharge of table in the drought prone area without spending a single Rupee. Because of this, water level increased by one to three meters in this locality. As a result 17,000 Hectares of additional land was brought under additional irrigation during the year. This, in other words was a novel concept of utilizing water resources to strengthen the agricultural economy without constructing new Dams and without incurring any expenditure. This is the single most outstanding achievement during the reporting year.

Nashik district is one of the five districts identified by Hon. High Court where malnutrition amongst children between 0 to 6 years is a higher compared to other parts of the State. Hence, a massive intensive programme right from monitoring age of girls at marriage, registration of all pregnant women, regular check up of pregnant women for weight gain, 100% registration of children between 0 to 6 years of age, assured supply of supplementary nutrition and heads. To raise economic status of these families assured work through EGS was made available. With this, outstanding results could be achieved and IMR was reduced from 25.14% to 21.43%. The number of Grade III and Grade IV children was reduced from 994 to 534.

6. Designation : Chief Executive Officer,
Zilla Parishads (Sindhudurg and Solapur)
Job Description:
An Administrative Head of a geographical unit responsible for implementation of development schemes.

Major Tasks Accomplished:

Introduced the concept of Right to Information for the first time in the State in 1998 in Sindhudurg district, four years before enactment of Right to information Act in 2002 by the Govt. This path breaking effort was highly acclaimed by the local people as they realized the power of information for the first time.
A novel grievance redressal mechanism was evolved and implemented to address the complaints / petitions with effective and in a time bound manner.
An organic link was established to empower the grass root elected functionaries through constitution of Sarpanch Committees. All the Govt. machinery at local level was made accountable to these committees.
Launched an ambitious Administrative Reforms programme, which was inaugurated by the then Chief Secretary of the State. The programme, inter-alia, focused mainly on promoting accountable, transparent people oriented administrative culture. The same was replicated by the Govt. in other districts also.
Completed survey of below-poverty line families in Sindhudurg ahead of all other districts in the state.
All the Village Panchayat bodies in Sindhudurg / Solapur were made accountable to every household by making their functioning absolutely transparent.
With a view to promoting quality education in Solapur, “Parents Organizations” were created at the village level to supervise functioning of the school.
A massive exercise was undertaken to minimize leakages in the administrative set-up, which ultimately led to unearthing of the infamous channel and needle scam in Solapur, the investigation of which was ultimately handed over to the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Home Department : Held various posts at the State Head Quarter.

B) Private Sector

Plant Pathologist( ICI’s Alchemie Research Centre)

Job Description:

As a head of the unit with over all responsibility to commission research project. Responsible for:

to screen Indian flora for its biological activity; to conceptualize efficient methodology for research projects; to develop commercial model for mass scale manufacturing of these products and to provide Managerial Leadership for all these activities
to coordinate with other research team at international level.

Tasks Accomplished:

Established sophisticated laboratory with tissue culture facilities and state of the art Green House for field trials.
Designed laboratory model to undertake genetic engineering research projects
Developed highly sensitive method to screen phythochemicals for their biological activities using less than 250 ppm micro quantity of these chemicals. This resulted in enormous saving in the resources and the time required completing the testing cycle.
Successfully developed two very promising chemicals having commercial applications
The organization awarded its International Incentive Award for product development for the year 1982-83.
The association with the multi national company, the then world leader In chemicals provided an excellent opportunity to acquire rich experience in corporate management especially the experience in HRD, Finance and R&D. The frequent interaction with similar research stations located in seven different countries provided a glimpse in the functioning of international managerial community.