Days after the Food and Drugs Control Administration (FDCA) busted a racket allegedly involved in black marketing of Tocilizumab injection, used for critical Covid-19 patients, the FDCA busted another racket from Surat involved in selling a spurious drug as Tocilizumab under its market name of Actemra. Five persons were detained for questioning in connection with the incident.
The racket surfaced following an investigation spanning over three days, after a doctor at Sanjivini Hospital in Ahmedabad raised the alarm when one of his patients bought the spurious drug. “The doctor got suspicious after the patient’s relative bought the drug and at the time of administering it, the doctor noticed that it was labelled as “intravascular” on the box whereas a box of Tocilizumab says “intravenous”. He sent us a photo of the same to get it verified. We contacted him and got details of where it was procured from,” FDCA Commissioner Hemant Koshiya told The Indian Express.
It emerged that the three boxes of the drug were bought from one Ashish Shah of Maa Pharmacy at Sabarmati in Ahmedabad, without any bill. Koshiya said that a mix of steroids and hormonal formulae which costs around Rs 300 was being sold as Tocilizumab for Rs 5,000. According to Koshiya, a 37-year old Surat resident, Sohel Ismail Tai, was manufacturing the spurious drug. “He was manufacturing this drug under the name of Genic Pharma and selling it at Rs 5,000,” said Koshiya.
Sources in FDCA Surat said that Tai, a resident of Sun Residency, Rander, dropped out of his computer engineering course and had started body building. “He used to purchase steroid injections from Maxtreme Pharma of Himachal Pradesh, remove its wrapper and put a new one named Genic pharma, and was selling it to one Ashish (Shah) in Ahmedabad, as steroid injections used for bodybuilding. He was also making some more steroid injections at his home used by bodybuilders,” said FDCA officials.
The officials claimed that Tai, who did not have an experience of running pharmaceutical company or a legal degree, was selling such injections to different gym owners in Surat and other parts of the state. With several other middlemen in the chain, which is under further investigation, it was traced that one Nilesh Laliwala of Happy Chemist and Protein House in Paldi, Ahmedabad, used to procure the drug from Tai, change the label to that of Tocilizumab and sell it to one Harsh Thakor, who used to sell it to Maa Pharmacy for Rs 80,000.
“We are yet to lodge an FIR as FDCA is still gathering more evidence,” said Koshiya.