Earlier, producers of spurious cosmetics would procure faux bottles and labels. Now they purchase empty bottles from scrap sellers, and simply re-fill it, says FDA. Photo: Thinkstock
IN THE serpentine lanes of D’Souza Chawl, a quaint semi-slum neighbourhood in Vile Parle, a workforce of drug inspectors and policemen raided the home of Henry D’Souza on September 13 this yr. From a primary flooring blue tin-shed, they allegedly discovered empty bottles of L’Oreal Professional hair color cream, Matrix shampoo, L’Oreal Diactivateur, a machine that churned out liquid shampoo, and a stirrer.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seized Rs 18 lakh price items and equipment. The Juhu police registered an FIR beneath Section 27(A) of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, for spurious sale of cosmetics. Speaking to The Indian Express at his Vile Parle residence, D’Souza stated his was a “recycling enterprise”.
But whilst they shut down the alleged enterprise of producing spurious cosmetics, the FDA knew this was a small participant. Its proposal, at the moment into consideration with the Maharashtra authorities earlier than it’s despatched to the Centre for approval, is to amend the Drugs and Cosmetics Act to deliver retailers of cosmetics beneath its web and make each retailer register with the FDA, similar to a chemist does for medicines.
If this transfer is permitted, an estimated 5 lakh retailers, together with chemists, grocery retailers, magnificence parlours and street-side hawkers throughout Maharashtra should strategy the FDA for licences to promote cosmetics, even when it’s a physique lotion or a lip balm.
Counterfeiting: The modus operandi
The cause for the urgency within the FDA is the altering development of the enterprise of fakes. Earlier, producers of spurious cosmetics would additionally procure faux bottles and faux labels. “Now they purchase empty bottles from scrap sellers, and simply re-fill it,” stated Maharashtra FDA Commissioner Pallavi Darade.
In 2016-17, Maharashtra FDA recorded 9 instances of spurious cosmetics sale. This yr, until November, seven instances had been registered.
At least one producer, drug regulation officers declare, purchased used L’Oreal shampoo bottles, every for Rs three, from 4 Dharavi-based rubbish sellers, who networked with magnificence parlours to buy empty bottles.
He would supply uncooked materials, primarily hydrogen peroxide, perfume and lively substances from 4 sellers in Mumbai, manufacture the shampoo, wash used bottles and re-fill them, an investigation revealed. About 5-10 ml of the unique shampoo can be added to the highest, to provide an genuine perfume, earlier than the bottles had been resealed and offered to parlours at discounted charges.
“We are investigating which salons bought from him, however it’s inconceivable to trace clients,” says drug inspector Arun Godase.
In January, Godase had raided a retailer in Bhuleshwar, and seized Rs 1.eight crore price of pretend cosmetics. Laboratory evaluation of the merchandise confirmed that variation in PH ranges and hydrogen peroxide may trigger gentle to extreme pores and skin irritation and ranging degree of hair loss.
Since 2016, L’Oreal has seized 7 lakh faux models of their model from the Indian market. “Interestingly, a few of these seized faux merchandise don’t even characteristic within the product catalogue of the corporate and are a sheer creation of the counterfeiter’s creativeness. It just isn’t solely confined to the bodily markets, however can be simulated within the on-line world,” a L’Oreal spokesperson stated in e-mail response.
L’Oreal has filed instances in opposition to such counterfeited beauty models for Intellectual Property Rights violations. The FDA prosecutes them, by means of a painfully gradual process, beneath Section 27 (A) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, for spurious cosmetics sale, which attracts wonderful of Rs 50,000, and imprisonment for 3 years.
“But the punishment must get extra stringent to discourage counterfeiting,” says Arjun Khadtare, joint commissioner (medication), FDA, Maharashtra.
Challenges in controlling spurious cosmetics
The rackets run inter-state, and offenders usually cross borders, making jurisdiction a problem. In November, the FDA performed a drive throughout 100 magnificence parlours and salons in Maharashtra. In Nagpur’s Bajeria space, they discovered 4 natives of Agra refilling empty shampoo bottles of Pantene, Himalaya, L’Oreal, Head & Shoulders and Sunsilk with domestically manufactured shampoo. The bottles had been offered at half value to magnificence parlours. Scrap sellers acted as brokers, supplying dozens of empty bottles.
“Parlours ought to squeeze and destroy every bottle after use. But we have to generate consciousness,” says SS Mohite, FDA intelligence officer.
Also, the FDA throughout India is acutely short-staffed to raid and examine all models. In Mumbai, solely 13 of 21 drug inspector posts are crammed. Across Maharashtra, the emptiness is 37 per cent of 162 posts.
But a higher downside is of lack of management over provide chain and retailers. In Maharashtra, for example, FDA has energy to examine 800 licensed beauty manufacturing models, however has no management over an estimated 5 lakh retailers. “Sale of spurious cosmetics can be excessive as a result of there isn’t any examine on provide and retail chain,” Mohite added.
In January this yr, 4 groups of FDA raided cosmetics retailers and manufacturing godowns, the place faux Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) cosmetics had been being offered at discounted value. Laboratory assessments on all seized merchandise confirmed they failed a microbial check, a key check for cosmetics security. “Spurious and counterfeit merchandise is a trigger of great concern. This downside not solely impacts the trade however extra importantly impacts shopper curiosity,” an HUL spokesperson stated. The firm has arrange a workforce of intelligence officers who collect inputs on the bottom. In areas the place the sale dips, they usually suspect a counterfeiting racket, they tip-off the FDA. The firm initiates prison or civil fits beneath provisions of the Copyright Act, Food Safety and Standards Act and the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Simultaneously, it’s working with the federal government and police to raid such models.
If and when amended, the Drugs and Cosmetics Act won’t solely empower drug inspectors to maintain higher vigil, it is usually anticipated to generate income for the federal government. Each beauty retailer should pay Rs 500 as an annual registration price.
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For FDA, an uphill process to curb sale of spurious cosmetics by: Pamela Hendrix published: