Pharma students held for smuggling Remdesivir, Favipiravir to Iraq

new delhi: Four Iraqi nationals and one Uzbekistan national were on Tuesday held by law enforcement officials for allegedly smuggling drugs used in treating COVID-19 patients out of the country. Raids conducted jointly by the Gurugram Police and the Haryana Drug Control department had led to the recovery of 400 strips of Favipiravir, approved by the DCGI as an emergency drug for COVID-19 patients and two cartons of Remdisivir, which has also been approved by the government here for emergency use in COVID-19 cases.

Police here have said that all four Iraqi nationals arrested in the case had come to study pharmacology in India between 2016 and 2018. Other recoveries from the posh Sector 57, 56 and Sadar areas of the city included cancer medication, psychotropic drugs, Rs 75 lakh in cash and a Toyota Fortuner. The Uzbek woman was visiting her Iraqi friends in India but was unable to fly back due to the lockdown.

Police said that the accused were part of two large international drug rackets. According to Senior Drug Controller Officer Amandeep Chauhan, the accused got in touch with each other through social media and decided to smuggle the drugs to Iraq, where there is a huge demand for these medicines.

The four Iraqi nationals have been identified as Akram Faiz, Raad Nealmah Al Hendi, Mohnad and Othmania. Raad had extended his stay by applying for refugee status. According to officials, the accused would first procure the COVID-19 drugs and anti-cancer drugs at MRP from Gurugram and send it to Iraq. Favipiravir, which is available at Rs 250 a strip here, would be sold in Iraq for as high as Rs 7,500 and similarly, Remdesivir, which is available at Rs 5,400 per vial in Gurugram would reportedly be sold at Rs 1 lakh per vial in Iraq.

The foreigners were arrested from posh localities of Sector 57 and 47, from where they also allegedly ran their operations.

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