The owner of a Chennai-based pharma company and his employee tried to create a “cure” for the coronavirus, but ended up consuming a corrosive chemical used to refine petroleum during testing, resulting in the staffer’s death late on Thursday.
The episode unfolded at the Chennai residence of Sujatha Biotech’s owner.
“Both the employee and the owner consumed the mixture and developed health problems. The owner’s condition is stable now,” said an officer probing the case.
The victim, 47-year-old K Sivanesan, had been working as a product manager with Sujatha Biotech for about 27 years.
“On Thursday, Sivanesan and Dr Raj Kumar, the company’s owner, decided to meet as they had a plan to make a medicine for COVID-19 with Nitric Oxide and Sodium Nitrate. They mooted the plan hoping that the company will benefit in a large way if they succeed,” the officer said.
During the experiment, however, Sivanesan and Kumar consumed Sodium Hydrate, used in the manufacture of chemicals and soaps, and in petroleum refining.
“They seem to have had a belief that the mixture may be used for COVID-19 treatment and to improve platelet count in the body. As both of them developed problems, they were rushed to a private hospital where Sivanesan died around 8 pm on Thursday,” the officer said.
Sujatha Biotech sells Ayurvedic medicines, “cough cure granules”, and cough syrups.
Police said they have sent items seized from a temporary laboratory set up at the residence for tests.
His body has been sent for postmortem.