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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Distilled Water Touted as Eye 'Elixir'

City Crime Statistics
Oct. 24 – Oct. 30
Theft (total)1,009310
Apartment burglaries1364
Car theft5339
For the Record
Car accidents250
    a) killed25
    b) injured281
Public drunkenness4,020
    a) detained overnight1,131
Missing persons60
Bodies discovered80
Source: Moscow police

It was a scam that would have made Ostap Bender proud.

City police are investigating a company that obtained the medical records of people suffering from eye maladies and used the information to market therapeutic eye drops that contained nothing but distilled water.

Officers from the economic crimes department last week raided an office on Nizhnyaya Syromyatnicheskaya Ulitsa, near the Kurskaya metro station, and seized more than 300 packages of eye drops, police spokeswoman Yelena Perfilova said.

Last month, a 46-year-old woman filed a complaint about repeated phone calls from people who introduced themselves as physicians and attempted to sell her a brand of eye drops called Eye Doctor Informational Elixir.

According to an Internet advertisement for the product, the "elixir" is based on an "energy-informational matrix of health directed at the cells of the eye. When applied to the eyes, the healthy structure of the matrix replaces dead and damaged cells and helps restore sick cells to their original state."

When police raided the company's offices, they found 20 people working on the phones using an illegally obtained database of eye patients, to whom they pitched the "elixir" at the tidy price of 16,000 rubles ($600) per 10-milliliter bottle, Perfilova said.

When police analyzed the confiscated eyedrops, they discovered that Eye Doctor Informational Elixir was nothing more than distilled water, Perfilova said.

Perfilova declined to release the name of the company, citing the ongoing investigation, and said it was unclear whether the company was legally registered.

The drops were sold exclusively via the shady direct-marketing scheme, not in pharmacies, Perfilova said.

In all, police say they confiscated 319 bottles of eyedrops and 765 packages of capsules containing unidentified substances.

Perfilova declined to give further details, saying the investigation was still in its preliminary stage and that no one had yet been charged.

Roughly 8 percent of medicines circulating in the country are counterfeit, according to consultancy Pharmexpert. About 70 percent of the counterfeit drugs seized by law enforcement are knock offs of foreign medicines, according to the Federal Health and Social Development Inspection Service.

In other drug news, the Kutsevsky district court in western Moscow was set to hear opening statements Tuesday in the case of 10 people accused of trafficking in the so-called Thai Pills, a weight-loss fad that contains phentermine and an obscure substance called opraphepranon, both of which are classified in Russia as addictive psychotropic -- or mind-altering -- chemicals.