Bhubaneswar: A special unit from the office of the Drugs Controller in the state conducted raids in Cuttack over the last two days and seized a huge quantity of spurious anti-viral drug Favipiravir, now used in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
The joint operation of the department in the Cuttack zone was done with the help of 12 officials after getting a tip-off on the issue. The department raided the wholesaler based in the city and busted the illegal racket.
The department is said to have seized more than 30 boxes containing about 17,000 spurious tablets of the anti-viral drug. “We got a tip-off that the drug was procured by a local wholesaler in Cuttack from a Noida-based supplier in Uttar Pradesh. We raided the site and seized the drugs and booked them under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act. The supply was worth `69,60,000,” said Jagannath Mallick, Drug Inspector, Cuttack. He added, “We will enquire into the matter and book others too who are involved in this racket. We have registered a case and an investigation is on. This was our team’s investigation and we raided with the help of other officials in a joint operation.”
According to the sleuths, the labels of the seized drug claimed that it was manufactured by a firm named Max Healthcare based at Solang in Himachal Pradesh but when they communicated with the drug controller department of Himachal Pradesh, they got to know that there was no such manufacturer in that state. It is also said that the wholesaler has sold some portions of the consignment to other states.
“We have contacted the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana on the issue and are working with them and sharing key information to trace more links,” Mallick said.
This comes after the special unit of the Odisha police earlier found several cases of illegal sale of Remdesivir during the pandemic when the demand for the drug in the country had been soaring due to higher cases and more hospitalisations.
Under the provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Act 2008 and Rules thereunder, it is the joint responsibility of Central and State Governments through their respective Drug Control Organisations to regulate manufacture and sale of drugs as well as to keep surveillance over possible movement of spurious drugs.
In the amendment of the original Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Act of 1940, the government has enhanced the period of jail which could go on till 10 years and also liable for fines upto `10 lakh in cases of sales, manufacturing of spurious drugs in the country. According to data from the health department, the Drugs Controller every year tests more than 50 samples of drugs for quality and adulteration.