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NEW DELHI : The government has short-listed five candidates to be the new Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), including S. Eswara Reddy, who is in judicial custody on corruption charges.

The DCGI is meant to ensure only quality drugs and cosmetics are sold in the country, give approval for new drugs and regulate clinical trials. With the present regulator V. G. Somani’s term set to end on 14 August, the Union Public Service Commission advertised the position back in February.

Five names have been shortlisted —V. G. Somani, present DCGI, S. Eswara Reddy, joint drugs regulator, Rajiv Raghuvanshi, chairman, India Pharmacopeia Commission, Jai Prakash, senior principal scientific officer IPC and P. L. Sahu, director, National Dope Testing Laboratory. A UPSC panel will soon interview these shortlisted candidates, an official said.

“The recruitment of the new DCGI is in process. Now, the communication is between the ministry of health and UPSC, and UPSC will have to give us a date for the interview," said another official familiar with the matter.

Reddy, one of the eligible candidates is in judicial custody over charges of bribery. He and Biocon’s associate vice president L. Praveen Kumar were named as accused in an FIR lodged under the prevention of corruption act allegedly over phase 3 clinical trials for an insulin injection.

“The demand and acceptance are the two major elements to constitute a crime under bribery and both these two elements are missing in the case of my client. At the moment, the immediate relief we are seeking from the Hon’ble High court of Delhi is bail," advocate Arun Khatri, counsel for Reddy said, adding no money had been recovered from his client.

Biocon strongly denied allegations against the company and its officials. Queries sent to the health ministry were unanswered.

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