To bring food & drugs under one controller, TN govt appoints an IAS officer R Lalvena as director of DCA

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With an intention to bring both the administrations of the food safety department and the drug control under one controller, the Government of Tamil Nadu has given the charge of director of drugs control administration (DCA) to the commissioner of food safety, R Lalvena, an IAS officer. 

According to sources from the drug control department, this is the third time an IAS officer has been assigned with the charge of director of the department of drugs control administration. Previously on two occasions, the government had appointed IAS officers to the post of director, but due to court cases that followed both the officers had to relinquish their powers soon after they assumed office. 

With this, the recently assigned post of ‘in-charge director’ to MN Sridhar, the Joint drug controller (JDC) in the department, has been withdrawn. Sridharan is the senior most JDC in the department. He was given the charge of the department head only 10 days ago. 

In the administrative rejig held on May 13, the government also appointed Gagandeep Singh Bedi as the principal secretary of the health and family welfare department by replacing Dr. P Senthil Kumar. Bedi was serving as the Commissioner of Greater Chennai till date.

When contacted, Lalvena said he took charge of the department but had not yet started the office administration. He wants to improve the administration of the department aiming to develop a strong pharma sector in the state, especially in south. The booming pharmaceutical and medical devices industries in the state will be made stronger with full support from the government.

Responding to the appointment of an IAS officer at the top of the department, retired drug control officers have commented that as regards the administration of drug control an officer without pharmacy background cannot become the controlling authority (CA) and also the licensing authority (LA). As per provisions of the drugs and cosmetics act (D&C Act), under 49A and 50A, the qualification required for both the licensing authority and the controlling authority is a graduation in pharmacy or pharmaceutical chemistry or in medicine with clinical pharmacology or microbiology from a university. With the stipulated qualification and experience in enforcement of provisions of the D&C Act, an officer becomes a competent person to head the department.

However, sources from the industry have alleged that the department is facing administrative paralysis for the last 15 days as the business of manufacturing and exports have now ceased to work due to absence of department head. Although the in-charge director of the department retired on April 30, the government has not appointed the controlling authority and the licensing authority yet. Applications for various licences and certificates are pending with the department from May 1 onwards

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