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Online sales of drugs spread to many locations in India, Maharashtra FDA starts probe
Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 08:00 Hrs [IST]
Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an order prohibiting Nagpur based wholesaler Kale Impex for illegally selling addictives, anti depressants and anti hypertensives drugs to overseas clients in contravention of the Section 18 C of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. FDA officials maintain that Maharashtra FDA has taken a lead amongst other state regulators in detecting the online racket which they claim has gained a foothold in India.
According to officials, FDA has seized and issued orders for drugs worth over Rs.2 crore from 28 locations in three months from Nagpur, Mumbai and Pune alone. Says an FDA official, "Investigations are going on and have revealed that the illegal online trade of medicines spread to many parts of the country and over 20 such trading companies are under the FDA scanner for supplying drugs to clients in the US, Canada, Russia, Sweden and Japan. Further action can be taken against the companies by way of suspension and cancellation of licenses based on the investigations."
According to an FDA official, selling drugs online without a license may also attract penalties like imprisonment of not less than three years which can extend up to five years or fine up to one lakh or three times the worth of seized drugs (whichever is more), under Section 27 (b) (2). Besides this, selling without prescription can amounts to violation of preventive Sections 18 (a) (6) and 18 C and the offender can face imprisonment for not less than one year which can be extended up two years or fine of not less than Rs.20, 000.
Drugs containing sildenafil citrate and tadalafil are used for treating erectile dysfunction and arterial hypertension. Globally, they are listed as prescription drugs and can be bought with a prescription of a qualified doctor of that country. An overdose of these drugs can lead to blood pressure shooting up, heart attack and eventually land a person in coma or death if consumed along with alcohol.
Investigations have also revealed that companies were selling sildenafil citrate to US, African and European based clients and that they had no buyers in the domestic market. Firms were dispensing the tablets via air courier without obtaining the drug license from FDA and export license from the assistant drug controller's office. A few other firms had licenses and also the export license, but were found to be involved in dispensing drugs against invalid and fake prescriptions.