Ranbaxy Laboratories, which is operating under an extensive consent decree with U.S. regulators, has now run afoul of authorities in India, which reportedly slapped it with a four-day suspension for "flouting" rules on product storage.
The suspension, issued by the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration, was prompted by a complaint by the Maharashtra Chemists & Distributors Federation (MCDF), reports Pharmabiz. Narendra Jain, general secretary of the MCDF, tells the publication he thinks Ranbaxy is getting off too easy for practices that expose products to potential contamination. A Ranbaxy spokesman told Pharmalot that the company was checking into the accuracy of the report.
While this appears to be a local fight, even the hint of a suggestion of any manufacturing or handling shortcomings is sensitive for the drugmaker. It has only recently gotten FDA approval to ship products from three of its Indian plants and is under unprecedented scrutiny as part of a 5-year, 55-page consent decree announced earlier this year. In 2008, regulators uncovered a list of issues, including faked drug quality data, and banned 30 products from the U.S. Among other provisions, the decree requires the company to set up an independent oversight group that can take in complaints from employees and elsewhere. The auditors are to report all of their findings and recommendations to the FDA as well as the company.
Ranbaxy has taken full advantage of its ability to ship products from its upgraded plants to the North American market. As a result of the FDA approval for Ranbaxy's generic of Pfizer's ($PFE) Lipitor, the company has seen its sales here surge. In its first full quarter selling copycat Lipitor, the Indian genericsmaker reported sales in North America doubled to $375 million.