June 27, 2019 7:20:45 pm
A Nagpur-based pharmaceuticals wholesaler was arrested by US drug authorities in Prague on June 3 for alleged supply of drugs prohibited in the United States.
Jitendra Belani was picked up by US drug authorities from Prague airport as soon as he landed there to meet the decoy customer they had created to lure Belani. The operation was conducted in concert with the Czech authorities, it is gathered.
The development was confirmed by Nagpur Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) officials. Following the arrest, the FDA authorities here also carried out searches at the Belani’s company here, Lee HPL Ventures Pvt Ltd, to check of the stock’s of the medicines stored there are properly stored and handled or not.
Assistant Commissioner, FDA, Nagpur, P N Shende said, “the company exports medicines to many countries, including the US. It gets the medicines manufactured from some companies based at Bandipur in Hinachal Pradesh.”
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He said, “we give licences to store the drugs. So our enquiry will be restricted to only if proper records are maintained and if the stock’s are of desired quality and are being properly handled or not. We have sent the samples to our Mumbai lab. If any discrepancies are found, we will take action.”
According to Shende, the exporters get what is known as the Indian Export Code to be able to export their stocks. “So Belani was exporting medicines to many countries, including the US, where some of those drugs are prohibited. That perhaps may have entailed the action,” he said.
Many medicine exporters make big money out of export business since in countries like US, medical treatment is costly and hence there are a lot of buyers of cheap medicines coming from countries like India.
The drugs in contention in Belani’s case are stated to be tapentadol, modafinil, tramadol, and carisoprodol. These have tranquilising, aphrodisiacal and analgesic effects on patients and are put under “controlled” category in the US.
Sources said, “the US authorities had tried to lure Belani to US by giving a big purchase offer. But Belani didn’t go there. So they sent a customer offer from Prague and managed to snare him.”
“The procedure mandates that the purchase must provide doctors’ prescription to allow the consignment to be shipped. This is for the Customs department to check,” they added.
Belani has been in the business in partnership with his wife Ritika since 2012, according to Shende.
How the contentious drugs could evade the Customs officials’ check in India is not known.
Belani’s lawyer Shyam Devani said, “the drugs that her exported are properly certified here in India. Some of them may be banned in US that had sought Belani’s extradition from Prague. We will see how we can oppose it.”
Nagpur has over 15 pharma exporters and the authorities don’t rule out the possibility of others also being engaged in export of medicines prohibited in other countries.
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