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Internet pharmacy racket: FDA lodges FIRs against nine, including 5 suppliers

Sunday, 20 April 2014 - 8:20am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

In a major crackdown against the illegal export of drugs to foreign countries, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has seized drugs worth Rs2.47 crore from 28 locations in three months. It has also registered FIRs against nine people, including five suppliers. The exported drugs include addictive anti-depressants, anti-hypertensives and sex boosters.

"In the ongoing crackdown since January, the FDA has been investigating the racket of addictive drugs waiting to be flown to foreign countries such as the US, UK, France and Australia via online orders. Eventually, these drugs were prohibited from being exported from wholesale godowns, airport sorting station and foreign post office in Ballard Estate," a senior FDA official told dna.

On April 18, FDA officials registered FIRs against wholesalers in Andheri, Sewri and Fort as well as against one in Gujarat. Three FIRs have been registered in Meghwadi police station, Jogeshwari, Andheri (East) police station and the airport police station against nine people. "The racket of internet pharmacy is clandestine and spans across continents. We are consistently cracking down on errant suppliers," said Mahesh Zagade, commissioner, state FDA.

Drugs containing sildenafil citrate and tadalafil, which are used for treating erectile dysfunction and arterial hypertension, were seized. Across the globe, they are listed as prescription drugs and can be bought with a prescription of a qualified doctor of that country. An overdose of these drugs can lead to blood pressure shooting up, heart attack and eventually land a person in coma.

Shivnarayan Varma, the proprietor of wholesale company Aman International in Andheri (East), took orders from customers abroad and couriered drugs through his brother Deonarayan's neighbouring speed post agency Tarun International. The FDA officials seized 133 packets of drugs worth Rs1 lakh from the speed post office. These had the names of people in foreign countries to whom they were meant to be supplied. However, the invoices were prepared in the names of two UK-based suppliers in Essex and Scotland.

"Stocks of sildenafil citrate and tadalafil-based drugs Tadagra soft chewable tablets, Kamagra 100 gold tablets and Kamagra 100 oral jelly were seized from the speed post agency," said Sanjay Kale, joint commissioner (vigilance), FDA. "The accused also used to source drugs from Vivin International in Andheri (East), Evershine Trading in Fort area of South Mumbai, Generic Pharma in Sewri and Dharam Distributors of Gujarat."

Also, an FIR was registered against Euphoria Healthcare Private Limited at the Meghwadi police station after drugs – Siligra, Tadacip, Maligra, Aurogra and Kamagra worth Rs15 lakh - were seized from its godowns. Drugs worth Rs4 lakh were seized from its office in Andheri (East) too.

The accused were selling addictive drugs without prescriptions and without maintaining records of sale bills or requisite licence. "They were violating sections 18 and 65 under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act as they were stocking and selling drugs without retail licence as well as without the doctor's prescription," said Kale.

"Offences have also been registered under IPC sections 34 and 420 for cheating and committing a crime with common intention against more than one accused," said Santosh Bhandare, senior police inspector, Meghwadi police station. The offences attract imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to Rs1 lakh.

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