‘Nepali pharma companies vulnerable in lack of monitoring’

Published On: August 1, 2016 07:52 AM NPT By: Kamal Pariyar

KATHMANDU, July 31: With the seizure of precursor chemicals manufactured illegally by Arya Pharma Lab Pvt Ltd in Bara district and arrest of five persons allegedly involved in smuggling, the law enforcement agencies have claimed that domestic pharmaceutical companies are vulnerable in lack of effective monitoring.

Following the arrest of Mohit Halan, 28, of Birgunj-13 of Parsa district on Wednesday in possession of 20.125 kg of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, the Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) of Nepal Police  revealed that a huge amount of precursor chemicals were manufactured in Nepal to supply to Asian and  developed countries.  

NCB on Sunday said Arya Pharma Lab, which is authorized to manufacture cold drugs only in blister form, was found to have manufactured a huge amount of such drugs used in the illegal manufacturing of narcotic and psychoactive drugs. Arya is among 37 companies manufacturing such drugs in Nepal.  

Under Operation Pseudo, the NCB squad raided the godown of Sanghai Plastic Industries Pvt Ltd and found 471.88 kgs of raw materials for illegal drugs hidden in tablet form inside 952 boxes. The number of tablets seized from the boxes was 2,974,000 pieces, one table containing 60 mg of Pseudoephedrine. 

“With the total drugs seized, approximately 71.37 kg of Metheamphetamine (ICE) can be extracted, which is priced at Rs 1.51 billion,” DIG Jaya Bahadur Chand, chief of NCB, said. “It is the consequence of lack of effective monitoring of pharmaceutical companies,” he said. The number of Pseudoephedrine users in Nepal till June was 3,151.

Pharmacist Gorakh BC representing the Department of Drug Administration, said, “We are surprised  at such huge manufacture of precursor drugs.” 

Beside Halan, the NCB has Dilip Pandit, 35, of Raxaul in India, Ratan Lal Sanghai, 66, from Indrachowk in Kathmandu, Shyam Tamang Moktan ,46, of Mechinagar-10 in Jhapa District and Badri Ban , 43, of Sinamangal of Kathmandu in its net. 

Sanghai, a former board member of Everest Insurance and owner of HP Gas Pvt Ltd, was identified as the mastermind in the alleged smuggling of the drug. He was remanded to four days in custody but hospitalized for spinal problems. 

Pandit, an employee of the company, dealt with clients seeking the precursor chemicals, under the instruction of Shankar Halan, who is currently absconding. He is the father of Mohit Halan.  

Police had raided the godown of Sanghai Plastic Industries Pvt Ltd after being tipped off by Pandit. They then nabbed Sanghai. Moktan and Ban were identified as assistants in transportng the drugs to India via Kakadbhitta, Jhapa.

Pseudoephedrine, a safe, effective, and widely-used over-the-counter decongestant, can also be used to manufacture methamphetamine. Methamphetamine, also known as “meth,” is an illegal and highly addictive drug. Ingestion of methamphetamine increases the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and rate of breathing. 20 to 40 mg of meth can be produced from a 60 mg tablet of pseudoephidrine.

Police said the arrested could be charged under the Narcotic Drugs (Control) Act, 1976.

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