Companies & Sectors
Banned drug seized from listed firm Avon Lifesciences may be the tip of the iceberg
Several financially distressed, small pharma companies can become easy prey to the underworld controlled drugs business. The recent seizure of drugs worth Rs2,000 crore from a loss-making Avon's plant may be just tip of an iceberg 
 
The recent case of seizing a whopping 18.5 tonnes of banned drug Ephedrine, worth over Rs2,000 crore from Avon Lifesciences a company listed in the Bombay Stock Exchange, should ring alarm bells for authorities. While Thane Police, which conducted the raids at Solapur, found no records of the drugs seized, Avon Lifesciences Ltd, which owns the facility, claims the materials may be stolen from its plant. After the announcement, Avon Lifesciences closed on Monday at its 52-week low or 19.97% down at Rs23.05 on the BSE.
 
According to market participants, the seizure of drugs from a pharma company premises may be just a tip of an iceberg, as there may be hundreds of small pharma companies either involved or thinking to get involved in similar practices due to financial distress.
The sale of ephedrine is banned in India. However, controlled manufacturing as a bulk drug for pharmaceutical use is legal in India. The abuse of the drug, popularly in the powder form, is known to cause euphoria, hallucinations, delusions, hypertension and nausea. It is synthesised to produce the narcotic methamphetamine. 
 
In a regulatory filing, the company said, “…we have all valid licenses and statutory registrations for manufacturing, stocking and sale of all products manufactured at our Solapur site. Also all the material has been accounted for and stocked with due notice to concerned statutory authorities. The concerned matter revolves around theft of some material and we are ascertaining the same in active cooperation with the investigating authorities.” 
 
According to reports, the drug was being diverted for unauthorised sale in Thane city. Thane Police Commissioner Parambir Singh is quoted in reports as saying, “The Ephedrine we found was completely off the books. It was not mentioned in the company’s quarterly and half-yearly audits.” 
 
Earlier, in Solapur, the police caught a 28-year-old man called Dhaneshwar Swami, who worked in Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) campus. The police seized 5.5 kg of Ephedrine from him. Swami allegedly told the police that a large quantity of the drug was stored in the offices of Avon Lifesciences, also located in MIDC. Based on Swami’s information, the police searched the company godown and found 10,071.5kgs of Ephedrine and 8,541 kg of pseudoephedrine. 
Hyderabad-based Avon Lifesciences manufactures a range of pesticides, pharmaceuticals and dyes. Incorporated in 1993 as Avon Organics Ltd, it changed to its present name in 2011. For the quarter to end-December 2015, Avon Lifesciences, narrowed its net loss to Rs7.42 crore from Rs7.85 crore on higher expenses, despite recording total revenues of Rs5.56 crore as compared to Rs23.36 lakh in the same period previous year.
 
Another pharma company that is in financial distress is Dr Datson’s Labs Ltd. The company shares were suspended on 21 May 2015 due to procedural reasons. In Dr Datson’s case, one fine day, the lenders invoked all shared pledged by promoters. Other lenders had moved court and the official liquidator had taken possession of the company and its registered office on 30 April 2015. A month later, the stock exchanges suspended trading in the company, although its shares continued to be manipulated right until 23 April 2015, when they had shot up 183%, to Rs17 from Rs6. 
 
Dr Datson’s Labs started operations in 2006, incorporated as a private company called Aanjaneya Biotech which later became Aanjenaya Lifecare. It claimed to be making salts of quinine, a second-generation anti-malarial. Aanjaneya Lifecare’s promoters are Aasda Life Care Limited and Dr Kannan K Vishwanath. In 2009, Aanjaneya Lifecare became a wholly owned subsidiary of Aasda Life Care Ltd. 
 
Last month, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, while dismissing a habeas corpus petition by a ‘drugs trafficker’, had said that due to India’s close proximity to the major opium-growing regions, the country is facing the menace of drug trafficking and drug abuse among the youth is increasing, which is a matter of concern. “The drug problem is a serious threat to the public health, safety and well-being of humanity. Besides, it is considered to be the originator of petty offences as well as heinous crimes like smuggling of arms and ammunition and money laundering,” the single bench of Justice Tashi Rabstan noted in its orders. 

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COMMENTS

Ramesh Poapt

8 months ago

'tip of the iceberg!'- well said! will the iceberg melt fully?!let us hope!

SuchindranathAiyerS

8 months ago

"Medicine" is like a drug on the Indian Market. From reservations and donation "Doctors", to commercial hospitals run by politicians and other criminals and so divorced from any semblance of "ethics" or "morality" to organ "harvesting" from the starving to guinea pigs for experimental medication. To drugs. Like corruption, the rest of crime in India, whether State sponsored and promoted, or not, should be made taxable and excisable. Then, there is some hope that the resultant bribe taking by enforcement authorities might reduce these practices, or the population on which these practices depend to some extent.

India’s biggest farm reform 91.6 percent behind target
India’s biggest reform to transform the life of a crisis-ridden farmer is 91.6 percent behind schedule this year, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to promise in five months what could not be done over the last 10.
 
As many as 250 agricultural markets nationwide (of 585 selected) were supposed to have been linked by 2015-16 to a common nationwide electronic platform, but only 21 markets in eights states have been linked-as of March 2016-to what is called the National Agricultural Market (NAM) platform.
 
On average, a farmer gets no more than 10 percent to 30 percent of the cost you pay for his produce, as IndiaSpend has reported, primarily because the farmer cannot sell directly to consumers and large companies, thanks to an archaic law that delivers commissions to layers of agents, usually linked to politicians.
 
Despite the slow progress, the target of linking 585 markets to the NAM by 2018 stays unchanged, according to a statement issued on April 14, 2016, by the Ministry of Agriculture. This means that 564 markets must be linked in two years, 26 times the number (21) linked over the last 10 months.
 
Last week Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to link 200 markets over the next five months.
 
The NAM platform will allow anyone from any part of India to buy agricultural produce from any farmer from any part of the country.
 
There are 2,477 principal agricultural markets and 4,843 sub-markets (smaller than principal markets) that buy and sell agricultural produce in India.
 
The NAM target of 585 thus covers only 25 percent of the India’s principal agricultural markets.
 
The law that helps agents and politicians
 
The Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act of a state regulates the purchase of agricultural products, such as cereals, pulses, fruits and vegetables for that region.
 
It hobbles farmers, imposing multiple levies on produce and disallows direct sales to private companies.
 
“The continued presence of regulations of APMC Acts in most commodities in most states has compelled the farmer to sell produce only in the government-controlled marketing yards,” said a December 2015 NITI Aayog report, Raising Agricultural Productivity and Making Farming Remunerative for Farmers. “The APMC market yards are subject to vast technical as well as marketing inefficiencies that undermine the prices that farmers receive.”
 
Bihar is the only state to have repealed the APMC Act in 2006. Kerala never enacted APMC legislation, but it did not develop marketing infrastructure either.
 
“APMCs levy multiple fees, of substantial magnitude, that are non-transparent and hence a source of political power,” said the Economic Survey of 2015-16 (Volume 1, Chapter 8).
 
For instance, at the principal market yard for Mumbai city (at Vashi), farmers must pay two percent commission to agents, who charge further commissions that range from 6.5 percent (on onions) to 10 percent (on vegetables), the survey said.
 
The southern state of Karnataka has pioneered modern agriculture marketing by unifying 51 of 155 principal markets statewide in collaboration with the National Commodity Exchange, a trading platform for commodities.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Mahesh S Bhatt

8 months ago

Lets mourn & Celebrate Death of real media as Farm deaths are Political tool & nothing more.Mahesh

Mahesh S Bhatt

8 months ago

Have Aamir Khan as State Ambassador.

Sideline Real Indian Nana Patekar as Politics Hai Sub Chalta Hai.

Amitabh shall become Brand Ambassdor after Panama Papers Match fixing is done at 74 years.

We have severe shortage of Youth as we are skilling India with largest pool of Engineers & Doctors.

They are not fit for Ambassador scheme of things but are selected in Tesla Google Microsoft RESERVATION SCHEME UNDER GLOBAL SAFE HARBOUR scheme for Global Ideas Manufacturing plans.

Our Municipal Engineers are now building SMART CITIES who could deliver year on year new roads under RE RE RE DEVELOPMENT schemes when China was developing we were busy asphalting/tiling roads.

Now our Indian Railways have learnt this best practice & they are fixing tiles on stations as 1lac death on rails are less we need few more twisted legs/hands to sustain Health Economies.

Mahesh Bhat

Mahesh S Bhatt

8 months ago

Sir how shall Sharad Pawar's of Indian politics survive if the magically & mytically donot jack up the prices of Onions/Potatoes/ Tomatoes generally & specifically during Elections/Festivals & we have well articulated reasons pre defined:

1) Rains/Drought/Unseasonal rains/poor storage.. destroyed the crops.

2) Make money whereever whenever keeping inflation well doctored n administered by CSO etal..

But never a Political person did the same they conserved to Make in Hay when needed.

May we observe a Minute Silence for Death of Farmers across the Country.Om Shanti.( Polically Correct with spiritual touch)

B. Yerram Raju

8 months ago

Agricultural Market Yards are in the hands of politicians and not agriculturists. Barring Karnataka as mentioned in the article, no other State was serious about bringing changes to the APMC Act. This Act 2005 has to be repealed by all States. All Agricultural market Yards have to be digitised if the grandiose 'initiative' of the PM were to be a success and this requires massive investments in PPP mode.
The two cereals - paddy and wheat - that are also targets of public procurement under food security provisioning - are among the 21 commodities freed for national market integration. Access to the small farmers through this initiative is possible only when aggregation takes place. There is no clue as to how the government is planning to facilitate this aggregation at the village level assuring the price advantage of free market.

Ashok Saraogi, former counsel of SpeakAsia, is arrested in a cheating case: report
Currently, Advocate Saraogi is representing Rahul Raj in the Pratyusha Banerjee suicide case, and in 2011 addressed the press as counsel for SpeakAsia online survey company accused of duping lakhs of people for about Rs2,276 crore 
 
Senior advocate Ashok Saraogi, who once represented Speak Asia, the controversial online survey company, was arrested on Sunday for cheating and forging documents to help a client grab land in Raigad, says a report. Advocate Saraogi, who hit headlines for representing gangster Abu Salem in the Pradeep Jain murder case, is currently representing Rahul Raj in the Pratyusha Banerjee suicide case.
 
According to a report from Mumbai Mirror, Advocate Saraogi was remanded in police custody till 25th April, while two more lawyers, Sohel Kazi and IVY Tauro, who too have been accused in the case, will spend three days each in custody starting Monday.
 
"The arrest on Sunday came after Saraogi surrendered at the Azad Maidan police station following his decision to withdraw an anticipatory bail filed before the Supreme Court. The anticipatory bail application in the Supreme Court was Saraogi's third attempt to avoid arrest in a case where he stands accused of helping businessman Ashish Bagaria and his father Santosh Kumar Bagaria usurp nine parcels of land belonging Ashish's estranged wife Nickee in Raigad. Earlier, his anticipatory bail applications at Sessions Court and Bombay High Court, where the land grab case is being heard, too were rejected," the report says.
 
In the case filed by Nickee in the court, she has alleged that her husband and his father forged back-dated a memorandum of understanding to enter into a deal to acquire the Raigad land to one of their relatives Vinod Jhunjhunwala without her knowledge. According to the report, under sustained questioning in the court, the Bagarias admitted that they had paid Mr Saraogi Rs5 lakh to create backdated documents to match with a power of attorney Nickee had revoked in 2014. 
 
Earlier in 2011, Advocate Saraogi called a press conference in Mumbai, barely five days after Speak Asia's first media interface. Speaking at the press conference, Mr Saraogi said, "The company (Speak Asia) is not selling any surveys to panellists, but e-zines to its subscribers. Surveys are offered as additional benefit and can be withdrawn any time if the company's contract with clients comes to an end."
 
The senior lawyer had also claimed that Speak Asia is selling its magazine over the Internet, which is allowed under the existing law in India and the company is in the publications business. Although Mr Saraogi had said that he was a legal advisor for Speak Asia, not a single official from the company was present at the press conference.
 
Few days later in June 2011, Speak Asia's PR agency LinOpinion Public Relations, a division of Lowe Lintas group, also decided to stay away from the controversial MLM company within three months after winning the full service business for Speak Asia. 
 
Last year in April, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), attached bank balances worth Rs101.06 crore in accounts related with multi-crore SpeakAsia chain marketing scheme. In a tweet, the ED had said its Mumbai regional office attached the balance under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).
 
Earlier, in February 2015, Mumbai Police arrested six persons including Sanjeev Mehta, the Country Head (Sales) of SpeakAsia, in the Rs2,276 crore cheating case.   
 
In July 2011, Navneet Khosla, a Mumbai resident, had filed a police complaint stating that the firm had promised a return of Rs52,000 on his investment of Rs11,000.
 
Those arrested by Mumbai Police include Hemant Suryavanshi, Hemant Chavan, Sudhanshu Tripathy, Virendra Singh and Hasmukh Patel. Suryavanshi, Chavan, Tripathy and Singh were SpeakAsia's franchise holders while Patel, who was arrested from Ahmedabad, ran Patel communication franchise.

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