5 booked for operating spurious tocilizumab drug racket in Gujarat

The racket was operated in Surat and Ahmedabad.

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Medicine Injection drug vaccine
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AHMEDABAD: Five persons were booked here in Gujarat on Tuesday for allegedly manufacturing and distributing spurious tocilizumab injections being used in the treatment of critical COVID-19 patients, police said.

Two of the five accused have been detained, an officer said. The action follows the state Food and Drugs Control Administration (FDCA) busting a racket involved in running a bogus pharma company based in Surat, police said.

The racket was operated in Surat and Ahmedabad. “The FIR has been lodged at Vastrapur police station (in Ahmedabd) against five persons. While two persons have been detained, further investigation is underway,” said police inspector YB Jadeja.

The accused are identified as Ashish Shah, Akshay Shah, Harsh Thakor, Nilesh Laliwala, and Sohel Tai, who is the alleged mastermind. Of them, Thakor and Laliwala have being detained, he said. Tai is the owner of Genic Pharma, a bogus firm based in Surat, from where spurious tocilizumab (Actemra) injections were being supplied to Ahmedabad.

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All the five accused have been booked under sections 308 (doing act knowing that it could make him guilty of culpable homicide in case it causes death), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 276 (sale of drug as a different drug or prescription), and 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, Jadeja said.

Sections 18 (c) (selling drug without valid licence) and 27 (manufacture and sale of spurious or adulterated drug) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act have also been invoked against them.

The accused had hatched a conspiracy to make fast money during the coronavirus pandemic by producing a spurious medicine called Nandrolone Decanoate under the aegis of the bogus company, the FIR stated.

They would change the name of the spurious drug and sell it as a genuine tocilizumab injection. “If injected, the medicine could cause death,” the officer said quoting the FIR. The complaint was lodged by FDCA drug inspector Tapan Chudasama. 

The racket exposed after a doctor of a private company alerted the FDCA. The concerned doctor had received a box of spurious tocilizumab injections from a relative of a COVID-19 patient whom he had prescribed the medicine, it said.

During probe, the FDCA found that the medicine was purchased from Dinesh Shah who runs a pharmacy in Ahmedabad without a receipt. Shah was given the injection by his brother Ashish Shah, the FDCA had said. The probe led officials to Harsh Thakor, Nilesh Laliwala and finally to Tai, it had said.

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