Officials of Pharma Firms Quizzed
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1 April 2010
The special investigation team tracking the spurious drug network in the state has interrogated the top management of two drug companies. Assistant commissioner of police P Balachandran, one of the co–ordinating officers in the case, told TOI that senior officials of Strides Arcolab, the Bangalore–based manufacturers of the drug Renerve, and their Chennai–based marketing company Grandix Pharmaceuticals were questioned.
Renerve, a vitamin tablet prescribed for nerve disorders, was among several drugs past their expiry dates seized by drugs controllers recently. Sources said that the company officials were questioned about their failure to curb illegal marketing of the drugs which had crossed their dates of expiry. The police are also looking into the procurement details of several drug stores which had procured these drugs from suppliers who are not listed as authorised suppliers by the company.
A spokesperson of Grandix Pharmaceuticals said that the company had suspected spurious drugs in the market and had taken up the matter with the drugs control authorities.
State drugs control director M Bhaskaran said show–cause notices have been sent to pharma companies asking them to explain why action should not be initiated against them for not ensuring safe disposal of drugs. “We have sent notices to Grandix. Expired drugs marketed from them was relabelled. We have also sent notices to drug authorities in Bangalore urging them to send notices to Strides, who are the manufacturers,” Bhaskaran said.
The police officials said they would have a better understanding of the procurement and distribution chain of spurious drugs in the state after questioning Meenakshi Sundaram and Sekar, two of the accused who will be in police custody for six days. “There seems to be two parallel streams of procurement of drugs past their expiry dates — one from dumping yards to Meenakshi Sunddaram, and the other from government hospitals and pharmacies. We are also probing the role of a driver employed by Grandix,” an official said.
In this case, two accused, Sanjay Kumar and Bhaskar, are absconding. Balachandran said efforts are on to nab them soon.
Don’t spread panic, chemists tell cops
The Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association has urged the state health department to ensure that the police don’t conduct indiscriminate raids in medical stores and wholesale godowns. “When the police go to raid a pharmacy, patients and customers suspect something is wrong even if the police return empty–handed,” said association secretary M Arul Kumar. “The Drugs and Cosmetics Act allows retailers to keep expired drugs though it can’t be on the counter. On average there are 15,000 brands in a drug store and everyday some drugs expire. We keep them away and send it back to the stockist for a credit. The medical shop loses 60% of the MRP when a drug expires but when the stock is returned, at least 40% of the money is got back,” he added.
A letter in this regard, he said, was submitted to the health secretary VK Subburaj on Tuesday. The association promised that it would co–operate with the health department for inspection by drug inspectors.