BHUBANESWAR: The noose around Eastern India Pharmaceutical Laboratory, which manufactured Epeecarm and Cinnamon, has been tightened with arrests of three more drug retailers from Bhubaneswar and Cuttack on Sunday.
All the three had stocks of the two medicinal formulations which they had destroyed. Police seized the wasted lumps and held Debashis Bhoi, Prashant Sahoo and Santanu Mishra. Bhoi and Sahoo have their stores in Ramachandrapur and Bhingarpur respectively (under Balianta Police limits) while Mishra operates from Kantapara of Cuttack.
Each of the three had been delivered at least 450 to 1,500 units of Epeecarm and Cinnamon by Biswanath Mallick alias Sania, the driver of the pharma lab who used to ferry the consignments.
Police suspect more units of the two formulations are still in the market but have been concealed by the drug stores. “We are hopeful of tracing the rest of the batches in a day or two,” said an officer.
With Sunday’s action, total arrests by the police stand at 10. The accused have been charged under Section 274/275 (sale of adulterated drugs) of IPC, Section 27 of Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Bihar Orissa Excise Act besides charges under Sections 302 and 307 of IPC for murder and attempt to murder.
Investigation has revealed that the pharma lab had allegedly circulated over 10,000 units of the two formulations although it had paid Excise duty for 6,365 units only. The drug firm could do that only when it would source alcohol from unauthorised sources since the 1,000 litre rectified spirit procured from Shakti Sugar was never enough.
Police sources said the 1,550 bottles, which were seized on Friday, may actually contain methanol although the forensic results are awaited. There is very little possibility of interpolation since the entire marketing was done by the firm itself.
Since there was a shortfall of Aska 40, the popular country brew, Epeecarm and Cinnamon were selling at premium. A 200-ml formulation was even sold at prices between Rs 16 and Rs 20 and at times at Rs 30 against the MRP of Rs 10. Sania had delivered over 600 units to Baidhar Bhoi, the vendor of Tukulipada where it all started. Bhoi was among the victims.