Mumbai: Woman finds insect in multivitamin pills

When Ramya Venkat sent a photograph of the contaminated capsule to the company manufacturing the multivitamin pills, a vice-president wrote back saying he regretted the ‘unfortunate’ presence of the 'black particle'

What do you do when the thing that is supposed to heal you could actually harm you? A 32-year-old marketing executive from Sion found herself asking this very question last week when she found that her multivitamin pill also contained a very unwanted source of protein.

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The medicine is manufactured by Nouveau Medicament, under the brand name MA DHA, and it was prescribed to Venkat toto help with her pre- and post-pregnancy vitamin needs
The medicine is manufactured by Nouveau Medicament, under the brand name MA DHA, and it was prescribed to Venkat toto help with her pre- and post-pregnancy vitamin needs

Ramya Venkat happened to check the last capsule of the strip of multivitamins, marketed under the brand name MA DHA, when she was about to take it on July 2 and was shocked to find a dead insect lodged inside the translucent capsule. Venkat, who was prescribed the medication by her gynaecologist to help with her pre- and post-pregnancy vitamin needs, had been taking medication for eleven months, including the time when she was pregnant.

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What surprised her even more was the response of officials of the manufacturer of the medicine, Nouveau Medicament a Chennai-based service provider, manufacturer and supplier of medical equipment and products. Responding to her e-mail, which had a photograph attached, the vice-president of the company said it was “very unfortunate” that there was “some black particle” inside the capsule.

Even after it was established that the “black particle” was indeed a dead insect, the company allegedly only offered an apology and a box consisting of 10 strips of the same pills for free.

Beginnings
Venkat, who delivered a baby on April 15, said she had been taking the MA DHA capsules on the advice of her gynaecologist since September 2014 and had never examined any of the capsules before consuming them. The contaminated strip was bought on May 13, along with a few other medicines.

On the night of July 2, when Venkat was taking the pill, she happened to notice a black spot on it. It was dark and she thought something was stuck on the capsule and tried to scratch it off. When that didn’t work, she held up the translucent capsule against the light and was shocked to see a dead insect inside.

“It was the last pill of the strip and, while watching TV, I happened to take a good look at the capsule before consuming it. I was in a state of shock after seeing the insect and kept wondering whether the entire strip had been contaminated because I had never checked any of the pills before consuming them in the past,” said Venkat.

She then checked the strip and found an email address mentioned. As per the information on the foil, the pill belonged to batch no MD 1039. The manufacturing date mentioned on the foil was February 15 and the expiry date was January 2017.

Here’s more
On July 3, Ramya sent an email to the address mentioned on the foil. She attached a photo and said that she was aghast to see an insect stuck inside the MA DHA pill, which she found absolutely unacceptable. She also said that the incident raised questions on the quality standards followed while manufacturing the medicine.

“I am going to contact my doctor to change my prescription. I wouldn’t recommend medicines from Nouveau to anyone,” she said in the mail. Responding to her mail, R Dhevarajan, vice-president of Nouveau Medicament, said he was grateful that she had opted to buy the medication and that it was “very unfortunate that there is some black particle inside the capsule”, which the organisation regretted.

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The organisation then sent two representatives to Ramya’s residence to confirm her claims. After confirming that the particle was a dead insect, all they allegedly did was apologise for the mistake and offer her another box of the same pills, assuring her that it was a widely prescribed medication for those in need of multivitamins.

Venkat has now written to the Food and Drugs Administration and is also planning to approach the consumer court. “The medicine is widely prescribed by doctors, especially during the pre- and post-pregnancy periods. If the manufacturing process is so flawed that a dead insect is found inside the capsule, appropriate action needs to be taken,” she said.

The other side
“I’ve been with the company for more than 12 years and this is the first time such an incident has taken place. Though we have outsourced the manufacturing of the pills, automatic machinery is used and high standards are maintained.

We manufacture millions of MA DHAs in a day and the packets are sealed before they come out of the factory, hence there is no chance of an external party being involved. We can only call it an unfortunate incident and nothing else,” said S Sukumar, Regional Sales Manager, Nouveau Medicament.

FDA speak
Harshdeep Kamble, Commissioner of the state Food and Drugs Administration department, told mid-day that stringent action will be taken against the company under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act if the complainant’s claims are found to be true.

“We will review the entire batch to which this particular pill belonged. If the claims are found to be true, we will take action against the organisation,” said Kamble.

Help is at hand
If you find that a food article or medicine is contaminated, complaints can be mailed, along with a bill of the purchased article, sample of the article and its packet to:

>> Food & Drugs Administration department
Survey No.341 Bandra-Kurla Complex
Bandra (E) Mumbai 400 051
Tel: (022) 2659 2363-65/2659 1959

>> Digital copies of the same along with photos can also be sent to: fdahq@vsnl.com

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