Bhubaneswar, Jun 12 (PTI) The Odisha government on Saturday ordered a probe into the alleged circulation of 'fake' COVID-19 medicines, officials said.

The government also decided to initiate legal action against those responsible for supplying "spurious COVID-19 medicines" seized in the last two days, they said.

Health and Family Welfare Department's Additional Chief Secretary PK Mohapatra issued a direction to the Odisha State Medical Corporation Ltd and the police to launch a joint inquiry into the seizure of alleged spurious drugs and submit a report.

"Prosecution cases will be started in the specially designated courts under the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act," he said.

The authorities had seized a large quantity of "spurious" Favipiravir tablets in Cuttack on June 10.

They also recovered "fake" drugs in other places, including Bhubaneswar, on Friday.

"Seizures were made in Bolangir, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Rourkela and Bhubaneswar on June 11," the officials said.

Acting on a tip-off from the Food and Drugs Administration, Maharashtra on spurious Favipiravir tablets allegedly manufactured by a company in Himachal Pradesh, the authorities in Odisha initiated actions.

These medicines were purchased by a company in Cuttack, they said.

"A raid was conducted on the premises of the buyer firm by the Cuttack drugs inspectors," an official said.

The inspectors also found the manufacturer of the medicine was a non-existing entity, he said, adding that during the raid, it was noted that the Cuttack-based company had purchased 58,000 "Favimax-400" tablets from an entity located at Gautam Budh Nagar in Uttar Pradesh.

Of the purchased quantity, the Cuttack-based buyer supplied 40,600 tablets to another entity in Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh.

Of the available stock of 17,400 tablets, 400 were taken for statutory testing and the remaining ones were seized under the provision of the Drugs & Cosmetics Act and Rules, the official said.

The supply details of "Favimax-400" tablets to Gwalior have been communicated to the Food and Drugs Administration, Madhya Pradesh.

Nine other drugs allegedly manufactured by the same entity have also been purchased by the Cuttack-based firm.

To ascertain the authenticity of these drugs and assess their quality, statutory samples of these nine drugs were taken and balance stocks were seized, another official said.

Meanwhile, the Utkal Chemist and Druggist Association secretary Prasant Mohapatra said anyone found guilty of circulating spurious medicines during the pandemic should be punished.

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