DRI red-flags import of banned pig-source chemicals, alerts Customs

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on September 23, 2020 Published on September 23, 2020

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China is the largest supplier of the two chemicals, which likely pose a health hazard following outbreak of African Swine Fever in Chinese pig farms

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has red-flagged to the Customs Department two porcine origin pharmaceutical chemicals from China and South Korea that are used widely in India for manufacturing pharmaceutical drugs.

Despite being banned these chemicals, Chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA) and Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), are being misdeclared to the Customs and imported.

Also read: Import ban on two pharma chemicals extracted from pigs

Virus outbreak

The DRI communication, which was reviewed by BusinessLine has said that higher vigilance needs to be maintained because of the newer strain of G4EA H1N1 viruses, has been found in Chinese pig farms and has the potential to replicate in humans through the respiratory system.

Industry sources said that the two chemicals extracted from pigs are being declared as being derived from chicken and other birds.

In early July, the US government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a recognised authority on infectious diseases had said that it was assessing the risk of the G4EA H1N1 virus causing a pandemic, by using its Influenza Risk Assessment Tool. It was also coordinating with China health authorities, including a request for a virus sample.

Just before the Covid pandemic, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, through the Department of Health and Family Welfare on March 16 through a notification had banned pharmaceutical chemicals CDCA and UDCA derived from porcine sources.

African Swine Fever

CDCA and UDCA are derived from pigs, bears, chicken and ox. China is the largest consumer of pig meat is also the largest supplier of the two chemicals, which are used as an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient for manufacturing drugs for gallbladder and liver treatment.

However, the Chinese pork industry since August 2018, has been heavily affected by the African Swine Fever, which has killed millions of pigs. It is this pandemic among the Chinese pig population, which had led the Ministry to bring the March 16 notification.

Risk of infection

The March 16 notification had said the Central Government is satisfied that the use of CDCA and UDCA, extracted and prepared from pig sources, are likely to involve certain risk to human beings and animals and that it is necessary and expedient to prohibit the import of the said drugs in the public interest.

DRI advisory issued from New Delhi is a pan-India caution note sent to all the Customs and Central Tax officers as well as to the zonal units of DRI.

BusinessLine had written to Balesh Kumar, Principal Director General of DRI, New Delhi about the advisory but there is no response from his office.

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Published on September 23, 2020
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