Hyderabad: The CAG has exposed the Council of Scientific Industrial Research’s hasty decision on a project for development of the Indian version of Tamiflu drug for bird flu that was to be developed with the help of Hyderabad-based IICT. After spending more than Rs 50 lakh, CSIR had shelved the project saying that the bird flu threat had “passed”, CAG said.
The audit found that CSIR was aware at the project proposal stage that Indian companies had been permitted to produce generic versions of the drug despite an existing patent. The purpose to become self-sufficient in the event of threat of the disease was also defeated, observed the CAG.
“CSIR sanctioned a project on “Process for Tamiflu–a Blockbuster drug to combat the menace of avian flu” to be implemented by the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune with a budget allocation of Rs 25 lakh for a duration of six months. The project was taken up in the background of the threat of a bird flu pandemic in the country. CSIR aimed to develop the process for indigenous production of Tamiflu drug used in treatment of bird flu, so as to become self reliant in drug production and stockpile sufficient quantity. As there was already a patented process for production of Tamiflu, CSIR took up the project to develop non-infringing process for development of the drug,” reported the CAG.
Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad was included as a partner with additional allocation of Rs 25 lakh. But NCL and IICT failed to develop a non-infringing process for development of Tamiflu. The project was shelved after incurring an expenditure of Rs 39.5353 lakh.
The audit observed that the project was sanctioned in violation of project formulation guidelines. It was also revealed that Indian companies permitted by the government to produce generic versions of the drug had got the process from abroad as a package from the original manufacturer and the developed process could not be utilised. CAG said that the purpose to become self-sufficient in the event of a threat of the disease in future was also defeated.
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