Black Marketing of Tocilizumab injection at premium price of Rs 57000 per vial busted, 4 booked
Private hospitals seeking Actemra injection will have to mail an application to email@example.com, with details of prescription, investigation report and case papers of patient. The committee will check the documents and find out how much quantity of injection is required and later send the proposal to the medical superintendent.”
Surat: In a major raid, the Food and Drugs Control Administration (FDCA) has recently busted a racket and booked four persons under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and Essential Commodities Act, for illegally selling the Covid-19 life saving immunosuppressive drug Tocilizumab under the brand name Actemra at a premium price of Rs 57,000 per vial, while its Government rate is Rs 40,545.
On July 9 (Thursday), the FDCA conducted a raid via a dummy customer and busted the alleged racket of the drug Tocilizumab following a trial from a wholesaler in Surat through a stockist in Surat, a Pharma Agency in Ahmedabad to a pharmacist at the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital ended.
A trap was laid following a tip-off via a WhatsApp status by the Surat-based wholesaler Uma Saket Kejriwal, who runs Sarthak Pharma. Through her status, Kejriwal announced the stock of Actemra injection. Thereafter, a dummy customer was sent with a doctor's prescription to her pharma.
Consequently, Kejriwal asked for Rs 57000 for the injection sans bill. She was caught by the team on the watch and the cash was collected. They also recovered two more Actemra injections from her possession. On probing, Kejriwal disclosed that she bought the injections from New Shanti Medicines at Adajan in Surat, owned by one Mitul Shah, for Rs 50,000 each, with no bills.
Later the FDCA teams in Ahmedabad caught Joshi and Manchanramani. All the accused were booked under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940 and Drug Price Control order 2013 which falls under the Essential commodities Act 1955.
"The FDCA teams then caught Mitul Shah and interrogate him at the FDCA office. Shah disclosed that he had purchased the injections for Rs 45,000 each from Amit Mancharamani, who is associated with KBVK Pharma agency at Asarwa in Ahmedabad, through his friend Ghanshyam Joshi, who works as a pharmacist in Ahmedabad Civil Hospital. Shah had deposited the amount in Joshi's bank account," Assistant commissioner of FDCA, Surat, RM Patel said told The Indian Express.
Modus Operandi of the black marketeers, a blank prescription was provided by a person employed as a contractual employee with the TB-infectious disease department at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital. This prescription was passed on to a medical representative of a drug major for the legal procurement of the injection. Once this was done the injection was ready to be sold illegally, reports TOI
Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Jayanti Ravi, who has been camping in Surat, told media persons, "The district administration has formed a committee comprising of Dr Samir Gami, Dr Aplesh Parmar and Dr Dipak Shukla of NCH Surat. Private hospitals seeking Actemra injection will have to mail an application to firstname.lastname@example.org, with details of prescription, investigation report, and case papers of a patient. The committee will check the documents and find out how much quantity of injection is required and later send the proposal to the medical superintendent."
On July 7, The FDCA had warned of prudent use of Tocilizumab and Remdesivir injections to prevent a shortage. After the racket was busted, principal secretary, health and family welfare Jayanti Ravi, who is camping in Surat, announced a panel of three doctors of New Civil Hospital (NCH) in Surat to vet all requests for the Actemra injection.
As per FDCA commissioner HG Koshia, the injections were being sold at Rs 57000 with an MRP of Rs 40,000. Three such hree injections of 400 mg were seized. The injections were reportedly imported from Switzerland and were already in the market. It was being used for the treatment of skin disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
"It was only in June that the drug was permitted for COVID treatment. It is meant for only severe patients," Koshia added. He also pointed out that the drug was also being prescribed for patients with mild and moderate symptoms, adding to the shortage in the market.
Assistant commissioner of FDCA, Surat, RM Patel said, "We have sought permission to file a complaint against the accused in the Surat district court. We will slap notices on them and will decide on whether to cancel or suspend their license."
FDCA commissioner HG Koshia, said, "The accused are not cooperating and so we will file an FIR with police help. We are yet to find out where the accused were procuring the stocks from and to whom were they selling them to".
The FDCA has instructed all the five stockists of the drug in Surat to sell it only when shown the Aadhar card, Covid-19 test report and doctor's prescription.