Sunday, 2 August 2015

CBI questioning NIPER Scientists to probe into ‘diversion’ of funds at NIPER

The Central Bureau of Investigation has initiated a preliminary enquiry into the alleged diversion of Rs 100 crore at the Mohali-based National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research. 

The PE has been initiated on the complaint of a ‘whistle-blower’ ex-scientist of the institute who had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the institute and made the CBI a respondent two years ago. 

 Sources said that Dr Parikshit Bansal, the complainant, submitted voluminous documentary evidence and also discussed the matter with CBI officials, before the PE was lodged.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Neither UPA nor NDA, Who cares,............

The authorities at the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research handed over the institute’s laboratory to foreign pharma company Systems Biology Worldwide in 2006 triggering a controversy over misuse of public resources. 

“The laboratory was set up by spending Rs 1 crore and was rented out to Systems Biology Worldwide for just Rs 20 lakh per annum. Interestingly, half of the rent amount was paid to the advisors as consultancy,” Nilanjan Roy, who is a former associate professor and member of NIPER’s Purchase Committee, told Mail Today. 

Lalit Jain, who is a former member of NIPER’s Board of Governors, said some precious instruments were found missing from the lab after it was handed over to the company. 
Not only did the institute appoint two former Ranbaxy bosses but also handed over a major department to them. 

The Technology Development Centre, which was set up to train students and offer resources to small-scale entrepreneurs, was handed over to Ranbaxy between 2004 and 2010 for a monthly rental of Rs 16 lakh. 

However, the operational cost of this centre is nearly Rs 25 lakh per month. 
NIPER officiating director K.K. Bhutani is accused of running the department despite attaining the age of superannuation in 2013. 

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had issued a notice to Bhutani in June on the basis of a petition filed by Dr Parikshit Bansal. 
“For the last 15 years, all NIPER faculty members were being issued letters of appointment in which the retirement age was indicated as 62 years.  "As a member of the board of governors, Bhutani increased the retirement age from 62 to 65 years just a month before he was due to retire in 2013.  "Under the NIPER Act and statutes, any change in provisions needs the President’s assent besides the approval of both the Houses,” Dinesh Rawat, who is arguing the case on behalf of Dr Parikshit Bansal, told Mail Today. 

The extension of retirement age was neither approved by the Petroleum Ministry nor the President as revealed by the RTI reply, Rawat added.  

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Hindustan Times e-Paper

HC issues notice to NIPER director for continuation in service

1 Jul 2015Hindustan Times (Chandigarh)HT Correspondent

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday issued a notice to officiating director, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), SAS Nagar, KK Bhutani on a petition challenging his continuation in service.
The petitioner, Dr Parikshit Bansal, had alleged that all staff members at the institute were being given appointment letters with retirement age written as 62 years. However, in Bhutani’s case, the institute has made an exception and he was continuing in service despite being more than 62 years of age, said the petitioner.
The high court bench of justice AG Masih has issued notice to the secretary, department of pharmaceuticals, Government of India, and Dr Bhutani for December 11.
The petitioner’s counsel Dinesh Rawat had submitted that in 2013, months before Butani was to retire, the board of governors of the institute increased the retirement age from 62 to 65 years. But as per the NIPER Act, any change in provisions needed assent of the President of India.
And in this case, neither the retirement age of the officiating director was approved by the ministry nor by the President, the court was told, seeking removal of Bhutani.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Big pharma industries gobble up NIPER patents

Manjeet Sehgal   |   Mail Today  |   Chandigarh, June 13, 2015 | UPDATED 05:09 IST
Patents and research findings that could have been utilised to boost the small-scale pharmaceutical companies are lying in the cold shelves of National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) for decades. And a section of institute's top brass is allegedly busy sharing the information on patents and intellectual property rights with the big players in the industry, thereby negating the mandate for which NIPER was set up.
This stark reality has come to light after a senior scientist, who worked with the institute, levelled damning allegations against the NIPER authorities. According to Dr Parikshit Bansal, the institute has the mandate to share such information with smaller companies in the industry so that affordable medicines are manufactured and made available to the people. However, he alleged that the institute has been sharing the information with big companies, who in turn, are making money by manufacturing pricey medicines.
Located in Mohali, NIPER was declared as an institution of national importance in 1998 by an Act of Parliament. However, over the past two decades, the institute has been in the news for wrong reasons, especially for not fulfilling its mandate. Moreover, there have been allegations of diversion and misuse of funds; the institute is currently facing 34 different court cases besides a CBI probe.
Bansal told Mail Today that rather than getting the research findings patented in the institute's name, NIPER authorities have been unofficially sharing it with the private companies, thus causing a huge loss to the government.
"It is an open secret that some senior faculty members in connivance with directors have been obliging select section of the pharmaceutical industry by illegally sharing the technologies and research generated at tax payers' expense," Bansal told Mail Today.
Mail Today investigation confirmed that rather than providing cheaper pharma technology to the small-scale pharmaceutical entrepreneurs, NIPER authorities helped a few pharmaceutical major by charging hefty consultation fees, a part of which was also paid to the scientists and consultants.
Corroborating Bansal's allegation, another former NIPER scientist, Dr Ashwani Vig, told Mail Today: "Cadila had asked me to establish an impurity. I helped the company by establishing the same as a consultant. The inputs provided by me should have been patented by NIPER. But it was done by Cadila. While the institute earned a few lakh rupees and lost the royalty, Cadila may have earned several crores of rupees by commercialising the medicine. We cannot say that NIPER's research was poor but the director lacked the business sense."
On NIPER website, which has not been updated after July 2014, a list shows 20 patents which have already been granted besides 91 patents which have been filed. Bansal had also raised the issue of the diversion and misuse of funds meant for setting up the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) department at NIPER with the President of India and Central Vigilance Commissioner in December 2009.
"Former director P Rama Rao (now Dean of Central University in Bathinda) and the current officiating director KK Bhutani did not allow setting up of the IPR department," Bansal alleged.
Bansal said Rs. 22 lakh was released for buying computers for the IPR laboratory; 10 people were to be hired as faculty and technician. But not a single person was hired over the years.
Despite Bansal's complaint to Arun Jha, the then joint secretary in the department of pharmaceuticals in the Central government, no action was taken.
According to Bansal, a third party review committee was set up by KK Bhutani. But the committee gave a clean chit to NIPER director and others.
When MAIL TODAY contacted NIPER authorities, they refused to comment. "I am unaware of the issues as I have joined a month back. I cannot comment on diversion of funds. I am not authorised to speak," said Susheel Kumar Singh, NIPER deputy registrar (administration and purchases).