Health Dept Wakes up to Spurious Drug Threat
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26 March 2010
Separate court sought, shops told to maintain records of expired medicines
With more than 500 cases pending, some for the past 15 years, the state health department has urged the government to establish a separate court to fast track cases pertaining to spurious drugs, health secretary VK Subburaj said on Thursday.
“The pharma market has grown but the department has not been upgraded. We have just 75 sanctioned posts and of these 25 are vacant. We are now in the process of filling up these vacancies and increasing the sanctioned strength,” he said at a press conference here.
Earlier, the director of drugs control, M Bhaskaran, had called for a meeting of the owners of wholesale drug stores and told them they should maintain records for safe disposal of expired drugs. “We told them expired drugs should be handed over to the manufacturer and the record for this maintained. It is the duty of the manufacturer to ensure that all expired drugs are incinerated or sent to the bio-medical waste dumpyard. In fact, we have sent a notice to a pharma company, Grandix, for not ensuring this,” he said. The drug controller in Karnataka has been informed about a Bangalore-based company that had failed to do this.
Meanwhile, the city police on Thursday morning nabbed Pradeep Chowdia, owner of Sri GH Pharma and one of the suspects in the spurious drugs case, at Chennai airport. His anticipatory bail had been turned down by the sessions court two days ago. Sekar, another suspect who is a wholesaler for surgical devices, surrendered before the 13th Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Egmore.
“We have sought police custody for the surrendered accused, Ravi and Venkatesan, for further questioning,” a senior police official said.
Police teams raided six places in the city and the suburbs, including Sivagami Medicals on Poniamman Koil Street in Madipakkam, based on information provided by Chowdia and seized more heaps of ‘expired’ medicines. “We seized from a medical shop four bags of drugs worth about Rs 1 lakh that were being sold beyond the expiry date. Some pediatric drugs apart from chocolates had expired in 2007. One salesperson Vijay Ganapathy has been arrested and search is on for the owner of the shop,” the police said.
All about a law
The law limits authorities’ power to go after those involved in spurious drug cases
The Act: The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, governs the safety, manufacture, storage and sale of drugs. Offences such as manufacture of spurious drugs are noncognisable. It provides for life sentence with/or fine up to Rs 10 lakh
Enforcement: The Central law is enforced by the state drugs control directorate. The director has the powers to ensure drug safety. In cases where it could lead to grievous hurt, it can attract IPC provisions
Shortcomings: The authority, the director of drugs control, has no arresting powers. He/she has to file a complaint with the police for arrest
Proposals: A separate court to fast track cases | Increasing the number of drug inspectors from 75 to 200