Police arrest 3 from Noida pharma firm linked to Uzbekistan children’s deaths
Based on a complaint filed by the central drug regulator on Thursday regarding sale of adulterated and spurious products, Noida police on Friday arrested three officials of Marion Biotech, whose cough syrup has been linked to the death of 18 children in Uzbekistan
Based on a complaint filed by the central drug regulator on Thursday regarding sale of adulterated and spurious products, Noida police on Friday arrested three officials of Marion Biotech, whose cough syrup has been linked to the death of 18 children in Uzbekistan.
The FIR was lodged over an ongoing investigation by central and state drug authorities that found Marion’s product samples adulterated and not of standard quality. Marion Biotech’s Dok-1 cough syrups allegedly led to the death of the children in December 2022.
“Three persons named in the FIR were arrested on Friday from the premises of the company in Sector 67, while the two directors of the company are at large. The arrested are Tuhin Bhattacharya, head of operations, Atul Rawat, the manufacturing chemist and Mool Singh, an analytical chemist,” said Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central Noida) Rajiv Dixit .
Vijay Kumar, SHO of Phase 3 police station added that Jaya Jain and Sachin Jain are the two absconding directors of the firm. The FIR has been lodged under sections 274 (adulteration of drugs), 275 (sale of adulterated drugs), 276 (sale of drug as a different drug or medical preparation) of the Indian Penal Code and under section 17 (misbranded drugs) and related violations of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
The FIR, filed by a drugs inspector of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) mentions five accused . It adds that central and state drug authorities checked samples of Marion Biotech’s drugs during joint inspections on December 27, 29 and 30. These were sent to the government’s regional drug testing laboratory in Chandigarh and 22 of the samples were found to be ”not of standard quality” (adulterated and spurious).
“As per sections 17A and 17B of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, adulterated and spurious drugs can cause grievous hurt to public. It is suspected that the related material/records may be disposed of by the firm and accused persons,” the complaint said.
During the inspection in December, company representatives could not produce documents related to the production of Dok-1 max cough syrup, prompting the government to order that its production be stopped immediately, Gautam Budh Nagar’s drug inspector, Vaibhav Babba, said.
According to people familiar with the matter, the company was also in violation of schedule M- good manufacturing practices (GMP) in production.
Babbar added that the production licence of the firm was suspended in January. Marion Biotech did not sell the product in India.
“The health minister earlier announced that appropriate action will be taken based on the course that investigation takes, which included the lab results. The drugs regulator has taken appropriate action as was deemed fit based on what was known during course of investigation. There is zero tolerance for selling medicines that are not up to the mark,” said a senior central government official, requesting anonymity.
WHO also issued a “medical product alert”, referring to two substandard (contaminated) products, identified in Uzbekistan and reported to it on December 22, 2022. The WHO statement added that the samples of both products tested by Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan found they contained “unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and /or ethylene glycol as contaminants”. It further mentioned that diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol are toxic to humans when consumed and can prove fatal.
Besides Dok-1 cough syrup, Haryana-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals’s cough syrup and Chennai-based Global Pharma Healthcare Pvt Ltd’s eye drops are in a global controversy over possible contamination.