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Syrup deaths in Uzbekistan: Pharmexcil suspends Marion Biotech’s membership

Syrup deaths: Co grew rapidly in the last four-five years; primarily makes cold medication.

In the wake of the controversy surrounding Noida-based Marion Biotech about its medicine for cough and cold allegedly being linked to the deaths of 18 children in Uzbekistan, the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil) on Friday suspended the membership of the company with immediate effect.The company will thus be ineligible for incentives under the Market Access Initiative Scheme.

Meanwhile, the data sourced from Tofler shows the Noida-based firm, promoted by Sachin Jain, has seen strong growth in revenues and profitability in the past four-five years.

It posted operating revenues of Rs 93.11 crore in FY22, with an Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of Rs 32.13 crore and profit after tax of Rs 21.13 crore, according to the data provided by Tofler.

It has a net profit margin of 22.15 per cent, the data showed, and posted a 35 per cent increase in operating revenues in FY22 over the previous year, while its profits grew 16.6 per cent.

Its revenues have grown by 75 per cent from Rs 53.37 crore in FY18 and its profits soared about seven times to Rs 21.13 crore from a meagre Rs 3.15 crore in FY18.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted in the morning that following the inspection by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) team in view of the reports of contamination in cough syrup Dok1 Max, all manufacturing activities of Marion Biotech at the Noida unit had been stopped on Thursday night, while further investigation is ongoing.

As for the suspension of membership, the Pharmexcil said the company failed to reply to the council on the report on the children’s deaths allegedly caused by its cold medication.

In a notice sent to Marion Biotech, Pharmexcil said: “It has come to our notice from the Indian embassy in Uzbekistan & media reports that 18 children died in Samarkand over a period of 2 months after consuming Dok-1 Maks tablet having the composition of Paracetamol 500mg, Guaifenesin 200 mg and Phenylephrine Hydrochloride 10mg which is also available in Syrup form and marketed as Dok-1 Maks tablet and syrup, manufactured by Marion Biotech and distributed in Uzbekistan by Quramax Medical.”

Uday Bhaskar, director general, Pharmexcil, asked Marion Biotech to provide the details of the licensees to whom the cough syrups were supplied along with the importer’s details, manufacturing licence copies, and product permissions of the cough syrups.

“Alleged Supply of Substandard medicines by your company leading to the death of 18 children has brought bad reputation to the Indian pharma industry and also likely to have an impact on theTrust of International agencies on Indian pharma exports,” Pharmexcil’s letter said.

Jain, chairman and managing director, Marion Biotech, was asked to investigate the matter and keep the council posted for further action.

Marion Biotech has been registered with Pharmexcil as a small-scale manufacturer since 2010 and merchant exporter since 2016.

Read Also:

After Gambia, now Uzbekistan alleges Indian cold drug killed its children

Marion Biotech exports to various countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Earlier, Pharmexcil had suspended the membership of Maiden Pharmaceuticals, which was linked to deaths of around 70 children in the Gambia.


Syrup deaths in Uzbekistan