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UK Enforces Chemical Weapons Ban Against Pharma Company

Although their violation of the law was seemingly innocent and benign, two directors of a British company have been sentenced and fined for failing to notify officials that their company was producing a material that is controlled under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The two were found guilty and fined for producing more than a ton (tonne) of a material that is beyond my ability to pronounce, N, N-dimethylaminoethyl-2-chloride hydrochloride (DMC), and yet, even though it is a precursor chemical for pharmaceutical antihistamines. In making the announcement of the sentencing, British Business Minister Malcolm Wicks said:

"The UK has a very good record and around 400 firms routinely comply with the requirements, but this sentence should convey to other companies, and to liquidators of companies that are wound up, the importance of meeting the requirements of the Act and the Convention. Legal requirements relating to controlled chemicals must be fully met - and where organisations fail to do so, prosecution is likely.”

The Chemical Weapons Convention and the UK’s corresponding Chemical Weapons Act 1996 requires reporting of any material in Schedule II. Further explanation of the British position on the Chemical Weapons Convention and details on this incident can be found here, especially in the Notes to Editors . Frankly, it seems pretty clear that as a company operating in a regulated industry, that the executives of companies would not only be aware of the regulations, but also ensure compliance.