The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) busted a major cosmetics counterfeiting racket after raiding a tiny manufacturing unit in Crawford Market late Wednesday. During the raid, officials found at least four international cosmetic products being processed. Cosmetics of major brands such as L’Oreal, Maybelline, Lakme, Olay and Nivea worth Rs 2.39 crore were seized after drug officials linked the racket operating from the unlicenced manufacturing unit to a beauty product store in Bhuleshwar.
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A case under Section 27A of Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940, which relates to sale of spurious drugs, will now be registered along with an FIR against at least three accused — Pravin Dhillon, Mohammed Khatib Shaikh and Mahesh Lalji Warchand — for alleged unlicenced manufacturing, production and sale of spurious cosmetic products.
The FDA commissioner is now set to approach the brands who may file a case of infringement of trademark.
“A lot of beauty shops sell these cosmetics at discounted rates. It is shocking how reputed brands are so easily replicated. Spurious ingredient in it can harm sensitive skin and eyes,” FDA Commissioner Harshdeep Kamble said.
On Wednesday, following a tip-off, three teams of FDA drug inspectors first raided a fourth-floor room in Crawford Market, where the manufacturing of a batch of L’Oreal and Lakme products was underway.
According to Joint Commissioner (Drugs) Vinita Thomas, they found finished products of Lakme Matte Compact, Lakme 9 to 5, Babylips lip-balm, L’Oreal Paris Fruit Banana Scrub and Matrix Biolage along with packaging material that resembled that of the original brands.
“Our officials found that the manufacturing unit had no licence to operate. The raw material and packaging was sourced from another accused,” Kamble said. The FDA officials then raided a Bhuleshwar beauty store, Krishna Cosmetics, where products worth Rs 2.39 crore were seized, all belonging to international brands.
The owner, Pravin Dhillon, was also allegedly providing the packaging for the final products. The FDA is now investigating the role of more people in the racket.
According to officials, Dhillon resisted the seizure. Joint Commissioner (Headquarters) O S Sadhwani had to reach the spot along with police before the material was confiscated.
“We could not make out the difference between the original and fake products. We are planning to call these companies to understand how to differentiate authentic products from spurious ones,” Thomas said.
Other products of famous brands such as Lakme Kajal, Lakme Absolute Liquid Liner, Revlon Touch and Glow powder, Olay cream, Blue Lens Fairness, Nivea lip care and Fair & Lovely were also seized.
The manufacturing unit, enclosed in a small room in Crawford market, is owned by Mohammed Khatib Shaikh. He was also allegedly supplying cosmetics to Radhe Cosmetics in South Mumbai.
While Dhillon supplied required raw materials, Shaikh had allegedly procured high-end machinery to manufacture the cosmetics. The FDA has now sent all samples for laboratory testing.