Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil), an arm of the Union Ministry of Commerce, has issued notice to Guntur-based drug maker, Safe Formulations, which is ”found” to be part of the Tramadol smuggling syndicate by the Customs department.

Tramadol is a psychotropic substance and painkiller extensively abused the world over by addicts, and it was banned in India in April 2018.

It has come to the notice of the Pharmexcil that the Central Intelligence Unit of the Mumbai Customs department, based on specific intelligence, intercepted a consignment on February 27 and seized around 10 lakh Tramadol tablets worth approximately ₹21 crore destined to a pharmacy firm in JUBA, South Sudan.

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”The shipment was examined at the air cargo complex in Sahar and during further investigation, it was revealed that Safe Formulations Pvt Ltd., in Guntur–Andhra Pradesh, had provided the said goods to First Wealth Solutions,’‘ R Uday Bhaskar, DG, Pharmexcil, said in a notice sent to the company. 

The probe has also revealed that Safe Formulations had provided 3.31 crore strips or 15,745 kg tablets (not clear whether they were all Tramadol) to First Wealth Solutions in the past. 

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The Customs officials under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act had arrested Sangala Sridhar Reddy, Director of Safe Formulations, for allegedly supplying Tramadol to two other firms, which would allegedly smuggle them further to several countries, including Sudan, via air cargo.

Safe Formulations was registered with Pharmexcil in 2008 as a small-scale manufacturer. Pharmexcil sought details of licensees to whom Safe Formulations exported the banned drug and details of importers and the manufacturing licence details of the company before April 27, 2023, failing which its membership of the Council would be suspended.