The Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) booked 15 black marketers of COVID-19 drugs for violation of Essential Commodities (EC) Act, Drugs and Cosmetics (D&C) Act and Drug Price Control Order -2013 (DPCO-2013) since July 10, 2020. The initiative jas been taken to prevent unethical marketing of life-saving essential medicines for COVID-19 treatment like tocilizumab and remdesivir in the country.
The black marketers had links with company officials and marketing representatives of reputed companies. The black marketers used to collaborate with company officials to illegally sell drugs at exorbitant prices.
“Joint raids were conducted in different pockets of Mumbai and Thane in which senior FDA officials posed as decoy customers. Latest case of black marketing of emergency use drugs happened in Ulhasnagar wherein tocilizumab injection was sold at exorbitant price.” according to a senior FDA official.
According to the FDA intelligence reports, “two remdesivir injections in Kashimira of Thane district, 13 remdesivir injections in Mulund, Mumbai, one tocilizumab injection and two remdesivir injections in Naupada, Thane and one tocilizumab injection in Ulhasnagar were illegally sold at exorbitant prices in contravention to DPCO- 2013. In the case of black marketing of tocilizumab injection at Ulhasnagar, Drug Inspectors Zone 6 Nishiganda Pashte, Nitin Aher and Sandeep Narawane, Thane along with Ulhasnagar Crime Branch Police at Manish Nagar, Ulhasnagar raided and arrested Nita Panjawani with 1 Actemra (tocilizumab injection) of maximum retail price (MRP) of Rs 40,545 per vial illegally selling at a higher price of Rs 60,000 without bill”.
Investigation is under process and FIR has been filed in Central Police Station, Ulhasnagar by Pravin Pawar, Assistant Police Commissioner and VT Paunikar, Joint FDA Commissioner, Konkan Division and Sunil Bhardwaj, Joint FDA Commissioner, Vigilance, Maharashtra FDA.
The FDA team also seized other therapeutic medicines worth Rs. 3,13,482. Five people were caught red-handed selling remdesivir injection at Rs. 25,000 (the Cipla’s branded injection Cipremi (remdesivir) MRP is Rs 4,000) and tocilizumab sold under Actemra by Cipla in India which has MRP of Rs.40,545 was unethically sold at Rs. 80,000 much higher than market retail prices without license in violation of different sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), DPCO-2013, EC Act and D&C Rules.
“We have carried four raids so far based on the action plan. Maharashtra FDA is in the process of plugging loopholes in the drug retail supply chain so that unethical marketing of drugs can be effectively controlled in the interest of patient safety.” Jugalkishor B Mantri, Joint Commissioner (HQ) and State Drug Controlling Authority said.