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FDA busts drugs scam, makes Rs 67L seizure

The state food and drug administration (FDA) has unearthed a racket wherein GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)'s area business manager Tabrez Khan and
his associates separated a narcotic drug, Pseudoephedrine, from Actifed and Actifed Plus tablets manufactured by the company.

Pseudoephedrine is used to make a drug, Metaemphetamine (which keeps a person awake for a longer duration), and gives a "feel good" experience. The Nalasopara police have arrested Tabrez and his associate Zeeshan Khan. The FDA sleuths are also looking for four others, including a Mexican and a Syrian, who are involved in the racket. Drugs worth Rs 67 lakh been seized, including Actifed and Actifed Plus tablets.

FDA's assistant commissioner Ram Banarse told TOI, "Around one-and-a-half months ago, inspector Dhananjay Jadhav got a tip that Actifed and Actifed Plus were being sold for a higher price than what was prescribed. We were also told that a GSK area sales manager was giving a cash incentive to distributors, which was unusual. We then further investigated the matter.''

It was found that Tabrez was diverting huge quantities of the drugs from stockists in Koparkhairne, Santa Cruz (E) and Jogeshwari (W) with the help of a Saki Naka-based transporter. Stockists said their stocks were being diverted by Tabrez to a godown in Vasai.

Banarse said Tabrez asked the stockists to order more quantities. Over and above the costs of Actifed, Khan used to pay them extra amounts to place the order. The stockist paid GSK and Khan took the delivery by asking them to sign on the challan, he said.

Jadhav found a godown in Vasai (E) on December 17 where Actifed was stocked. A case was registered with the Nalasopara police against Tabrez and godown owner Zeeshan. "We initially booked them for stocking Actifed without licence,'' said Jadhav.

The police arrested Zeeshan immediately but feared Tabrez would run away. FDA inspector N D Deore said, "We went to the GSK office and informed the VP (legal) about the case. She was convinced. We called Tabrez to her office and picked him up from there.'' They were booked under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and NDPS Act. The police also seized Actifed tablets worth Rs 16.5 lakh.

The police raided another godown on December 20 at Vasai phata. They found that there was a huge factory where 4,000 kg of Actifed was kept. "Khan and his associates used to crush Actifed and Actifed Plus and dip them in Isopropyl Alcohol to remove Pseudoephedrine. This was being used to prepare Metaemphetamine,'' said Banarse. The FDA raided a third godown at Valiv village in Vasai where they found another 850 kg of Actifed worth Rs 8.5 lakh on December 21.

Officials suspect that the consignment was meant for Mexico by stuffing the drug in walnut scrub tubes.

GSK vice-president (legal) Sree Patel said, "Khan has been picked up by the FDA and the police. But there is no question of others being involved.''

A company spokesperson said, "We will provide the necessary cooperation to the authorities concerned. GSK is in no way connected to the alleged action of Tabrez Khan."



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