Mumbai: Pharma company sells mislabeled, substandard chemotherapy drugs, owner absconding

Updated: Dec 11, 2017, 20:12 IST | Suraj Ojha and Samiullah Khan | Mumbai

Taj Pharmaceuticals Ltd accused of copying Pune firm’s cancer drug; four owners declared absconding

A YEAR after the Mumbai-based Taj Pharmaceuticals Ltd was booked for allegedly selling substandard and mislabelled chemotherapy injections to a company in Israel, the Crime Branch has made the first arrest in the case - that of one of its directors, identified as Sudhir Singh alias Rajiv Bhatia. However, the main accused, company owner Dr Ranvir Singh and his children Abhishek, Shantanu and Priyanka, are still absconding.

Sudhir Singh alias Rajiv Bhatia
Sudhir Singh alias Rajiv Bhatia

Confirming the development, deputy commissioner of police (Crime Branch) Nisar Tamboli said, "We have arrested one accused in this case and our investigation is on." According to Crime Branch officials, the case dates back to December 2015, when the accused supplied injections of the drug named Carmustine, used in chemotherapy.

Dr Singh and his family allegedly bought around 520 substandard Carmustine injections worth about R2,000 to Rs 3,000 each and then labelled them with the BiCNU tag. The rights for selling BiCNU are held by the Pune-based Emcure Pharmaceuticals. Taj then allegedly sold the injections for Rs 50,000 each.

The accused bought substandard versions of the drug, fraudulently labelled them and sold them to a company in Israel. Representation pic/Thinkstock
The accused bought substandard versions of the drug, fraudulently labelled them and sold them to a company in Israel. Representation pic/Thinkstock

Tampered with injections
Taj claimed to have secured BiCNU for sale in the domestic market. The company is said to have tampered with the batch numbers and other details of the injections, and sold it without any authority to Raz Pharmaceuticals in Israel. The unauthorized export was discovered because of a call Emcure received from Raz, after which it registered the case. Emcure then sued Taj in 2016 for facilitating the export of the substandard batch by using its brand name BiCNU.

Speaking to mid-day, Emcure's advocate Hitesh Jain said, "After we received the complaint from Israel, we immediately moved HC to file an injunction on selling the drug and using the trademark. We got an order in our favour. Simultaneously, we filed a complaint with the police and right after that, the accused filed for anticipatory bail, which was rejected till the Supreme Court. Now a year and an SC order later, the cops have arrested the first accused in this case."

Sued since 2016
In December 2016, the Bombay High Court had rejected the anticipatory bail applications of Taj's directors. Taj's directors had also been booked in the case for various offences related to cheating and forgery under the Indian Penal Code and for selling or providing goods and services with a false trademark under the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and Section 13(3)(a) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

Emcure has alleged that while exporting the drug, export documents were tampered, including those of invoices, wherein the signature of the preventive officer and a stamp were forged.

Inputs by Sailee Dhayalkar

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