Chhattisgarh sterilisation tragedy: Pharma firm was blacklisted 2 yrs ago, govt still bought drugs from it

CM Singh did not respond to requests for comment but Agarwal said that the drugs were purchased by a local official.

Written by Ashutosh Bhardwaj | Bilaspur | Updated: November 15, 2014 4:29 am
The Mahawar Pharma factory in Raipur. (Source: Express photo by Ashutosh Bhardwaj) The Mahawar Pharma factory in Raipur. (Source: Express photo by Ashutosh Bhardwaj)

When Raman Singh’s Chhattisgarh government cracked down on Mahawar Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd for supplying drugs of “suspicious quality” for the laparoscopic tubectomies that led to 13 deaths in Bilaspur over the last week, it remained silent on a crucial detail.

On March 21, 2012, Health Minister Amar Agarwal had informed the State Assembly that the company had been found guilty of selling “duplicate generic drugs” and that “a case was registered against it on February 2, 2012 in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Raipur.”

Apart from the police case, records reveal that seven medicines supplied by this company had been banned by the state government for various reasons over different periods of time.

Yet, the state government continued to purchase drugs from the company which also owns a small factory operating from a residential colony of Raipur without even a signboard.

In the latest instance, the company had supplied an antibiotic — Ciprofloxacin — for the surgeries in Bilaspur, ironically the home district of Health Minister Agarwal.

Chief Minister Singh did not respond to requests for comment but Agarwal said that the drugs were purchased by a local official “at his individual level”.

“We did not purchase these medicines. These were purchased by the Bilaspur Chief Medical Officer at his individual level,” Amar Agarwal told The Indian Express.

However, government doctors have refuted the minister’s claim and said that the administration has been purchasing drugs from this company for over ten years.

Indicating the possibility that the drugs supplied for the camp may have been of inferior quality, Chhattisgarh Health Secretary Alok Shukla said, “It seems that it (the deaths) could be a case of Zinc Phosphate poisoning.”

While Agarwal sought to distance the government from Mahavir Pharma, the fact remains that the State Food and Drug Controller had awarded the company a Good Medical Practice certificate last year, an official acknowledgement of the “quality standards” maintained by the company.

Even the local police have said, in statements on the case, that the company had been supplying drugs to the government.

“A case under Section 420 has been filed against the company,” Raipur IG G P Singh said. “They were registered as manufacturers, but it was found that they did not manufacture here. They merely brought drugs from elsewhere and packaged here. They did not maintain many records either.”

Police have also arrested the company’s directors Mahesh Mahavar and his son Sumit Mahavar after the Food and Drug Controller sealed the company’s premises Thursday. The company has subsequently issued a statement claiming that it had never received any complaint about the antibiotic that it had supplied for the Bilaspur camp.

“We never sell to the government,” it said in a statement. “We sell to drug traders, who supply it to various agencies. This antibiotic is sold at many places. We have never received any complaint.”

In 2012, Agarwal had also told the Assembly that the government had prohibited the company from manufacturing seven medicines over varying periods, and was issued a showcause notice for the production of another drug, Agarwal said. The police case referred to by the Minister then brought five other drugs supplied by the company under the scanner.

Records show that the subsequent purchases from the company were made by Chhattisgarh Medical Service Corporation Ltd on behalf of the government. Officials said the drugs were purchased only after “tendering and examining the quality of drugs”.

As per norms, the government does not release payment for the drugs unless samples have passed the quality test.

Bandh today

The Chhattisgarh chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has called for a statewide bandh tomorrow in support of Dr R K Gupta, who was arrested for conducting the laparoscopic tubectomies in Bilaspur that led to 13 deaths. The IMA has termed his arrest as “arbitrary”.

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  1. K
    Nov 15, 2014 at 4:50 pm
    Every one involved in this racket needs to be identified and hanged in public. Indian courts have the same amount of corrupt Judges that other departments that are investigating the cases. It is high time to hand this investigation to a group of fearless scientists and honest policemen.
    1. Khushminder Sahasi
      Nov 16, 2014 at 3:24 am
      Raman Singh Govt and Amar Agarwal the health minister are incompetent and corrupt andhence they They must resign a a case of corrupt practices be filed in court agaist Amar Agarwal the health minister at present. He allowed buying of medicines from banned company for last two years.
      1. A
        Nov 18, 2014 at 3:48 pm
        Stop shouting Know facts
        1. K
          Nov 15, 2014 at 12:38 am
          doctor is not responsible for all the ills in medical service delivery but he is the one who gets boot all the time in-spite of difficult environment they are forced to work in. most of them are dedicated. administration never ever been held responsible for the problemscan the media make amends ? say sorry to the doctor, an easy prey to overkill ,as it is difficult to do full investigations and find the real truth by that time the journalists will have lost chance of the eye balls.
          1. J
            Jigisa Shah
            Nov 15, 2014 at 6:32 am
            This the nexus of Govt drug controller CMO This is going to happen till India will not adopt lokpal and strict law against corruption .Most pharma company procure licence from state drug controller (even so called reputed pharma also ) when failed to get the licence from central drug authority (DCGI ) and illegally sell all across india .Quality doesnot matter for them to sell drug in India .However In USA indian company provide excellent quality as their manufacturing site is different as well standard .Have you seen any batch recall by indian pharma like USA in India ?? Indian pharma company get sudden visit by USFDA .So they are so much threaten even recall drug voluntarily .Ranbaxy banned due to illegal activities .Why foreigners reveal illegal thing to us ? where is our vigilance system ??Indian doctors, patient doesnot report to pharmacovigilance department Neither govt take initiative to create maas campaigning through advertising .Because when something run illegaly then only politician will get money .Can some NGO create awarenees to report adverse event of drug to the authority .Govt (BJP & Congress will not do that as their party fund filled by these corrupt bussiness man )Call if any adverse event to this number :Helpline Number: 1800 180
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