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Feds Raid Drug Company, Seize Medicine

Officials said they seized more than $300,000 worth of products after investigating allegations the St. Louis company was manufacturing potentially unsanitary medicine.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Federal agents raided a drug company after allegations it was concealing drug products behind a false wall and manufacturing potentially unsanitary medicine, dietary supplements and pet treatments, authorities said Thursday.
General Therapeutics Corp. makes over-the-counter drugs for human and veterinary use and manufactures dietary supplements.
Officials said they seized more than $300,000 worth of products, including Vitrin, a multivitamin; NC Solution, an antifungal product; and Pyran-50, a pet de-wormer.
U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said in a statement that consumers expect products made in a clean and safe manner.
''When manufacturers fail to do so, this office will seriously consider using all available remedies, including product seizure, to protect customers,'' she said.
The government is seeking to have the seized products destroyed.
Agents with the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service removed materials from the building Wednesday, and a forfeiture complaint filed by the U.S. attorney's office was unsealed.
Court documents show problems with inspections at the company in 1999 and earlier this year. On April 26, 1999, the FDA issued a warning letter to the company identifying violations related to the improper storage of materials, poor sanitation, inadequate cleaning of manufacturing equipment and building defects.
In a 2000 inspection, the firm's owner said the company stopped making drug products and the FDA found no evidence of such manufacturing. However, in an inspection from Aug. 22 to Sept. 8 of this year, inspectors said they discovered the firm had not stopped making pharmaceuticals.
''Instead, the firm had constructed several rooms hidden behind a false wall, apparently to conceal drug products from FDA,'' court documents said.
Inspectors found a container of Vitrin infested with live and dead beetles, as well as dead cockroaches and rodent droppings near equipment, records showed.
They outlined problems with equipment that had not been properly cleaned and sanitized, problems with proper testing and record-keeping related to drug products, and other violations.
''For example, roof leaks have resulted in water damage and water contamination to drug components and food containers,'' documents said.
Officials found deteriorating chemicals that were potentially explosive, which led to an order to evacuate the building that was in effect for several days, they said.
Phone calls to General Therapeutics were not returned. Lawyer Patrick McCarthy told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the company was ''fully cooperating'' with the investigation.
The lawyer said the company's owner, Raj Panjwani, rents space in the building, which he said has parts ''that are not satisfactory to my client.''
The FDA issued a statement recommending that ''consumers who have any products manufactured by General Therapeutics, including NC Solution, consult their health care provider about discontinuing use and if they have experienced any adverse events that they suspect are related to the product's use.''
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