Two pharmaceutical company executives have been sentenced to two-and-half years in jail for exporting substandard drugs to Vietnam a decade ago, months after the WHO linked their cough syrups to the deaths of children in Gambia, reported Reuters on Tuesday.
The central government suspended production at the Maiden Pharmaceuticals in October last year for violations of manufacturing standards after the World Health Organization said four of its cough syrups may have killed dozens of children in Gambia.
The company has denied its drugs were at fault for the deaths in Gambia and tests by a government laboratory found there were no toxins in them.
The company had been facing legal difficulties for years over suspected shoddy products.
A court in Haryana’s Sonipat, where Maiden has its main production facility, ordered jail for company founder Naresh Kumar Goel and technical director MK Sharma for exporting heartburn medicine “not of standard quality” to Vietnam.
“This court has come to the conclusion that the complainant/prosecution has duly proved the charge … beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt,” Judge Sanjeev Arya said in his ruling last week.
The written judgement was posted online this week. The court has given them until March 23 to appeal to a higher court.
The two were also fined Rs 1,00,000 each for exporting the medicine, Ranitidine Tablets BP (Mantek-150), to Vietnam.
Mr Goel did not answer calls to his telephone. The company said it had no immediate comment on the convictions and declined to provide Mr Sharma’s contact details.
Their lawyer told the court that as both Mr Goel and Mr Sharma were over the age of 60 and had been facing court proceedings for the seven years, it should take a “lenient view” on their punishment, according to the judgement.
The authorities here started investigating the company in 2014 after the Consulate General of India in Vietnam told India’s Drug Controller General that Vietnam had blacklisted many Indian companies, including Maiden, for quality violations.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by String Reveals staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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